Best of the Melbourne Fringe, part 2

The Melbourne Fringe is over the halfway mark and only has a week to go. So many shows have already come and gone, while others open this weekend and still don’t know what’s in store for them this week. I’m up to 21 shows, which leaves me lagging behind the most dedicated Fringe goers; if only I didn’t need to sleep.

Bucket’s List
Fringe Hub, Rehearsal Room

to 4 October

Buckets List

With wedding song two-steps, a surly possum, dried apricots & words that sound like bucket, don’t even think about missing Bucket’s List, the fourth work by Sarah Collins.

Bucket (Justin Kennedy) loved his work at the bucket factory for 19 years and 364 days and was happy to stay for the next 20 years, but bucket peak has been reached. He finds a new job as a wedding DJ, realises that he’s never had his own wedding dance and, with the help of his neighbours and a sexed-up and cynical possum, he goes looking for love.

Kennedy’s adorable performance makes it easy to love Bucket and maybe want him as a sweet and odd friend, but he barely utters a word. The performance is all physical (like Mr Bean, but nothing like the Mr Bean character) while recorded narrator, Felix Nobis, tells the story, with Rhys Auteri providing a live guitar score and doubling as the possum who finds noisy love before Bucket finds his own hope of a girlfriend.

Director by Yvonne Virsik (who directed Collins’s first work Nothing Extraordinary Ever Happens in Toowoomba (Ever)) ensures that there’s guts and humanity in the more twee moments, and Jason Lehane (who directed Collins and Kennedy in Donna and Damo) created a bucket puppet who may be remembered as the woman who made too many people cry this Fringe.

Rod Quantock: Invitation to a Revolution
Fringe Hub, Lithuanian Club, Main Theatre
to 4 October

Rod Quantock

I went to see Rod Quantock because I wanted to be in a room with people who also needed to share rage and tears about how our government is doing everything it can to undermine us, punish anyone who isn’t in their gang, and create communities that are led by fear and hate.

I wasn’t alone, and it was nice to see the entire Fringe demographic of 40-to-60-somethings in one room. We’re ready to join Rod’s revoltion. We have our orders and don’t be surprised if we follow through, but we need some young blood. I know you’re as angry as we are, so get to Rod’s show.

He still greets everyone at the door (and checks in case there is anyone middle eastern looking and we need to dob on them for attending political theatre) and with his trademark blackboard, he talks about the IPA, Tony A… blugh (he can’t say the name) and other lucky pricks. It’s very like his comedy festival show from earlier in the year, but this time it’s different.

This time it’s harder to laugh. Not because Rod’s not one of the funniest and smartest human beings ever, but because all those things we joked about earlier in the year have become reality. It’s just not funny anymore.

Richard 11
Northcote Town Hall, Studio 2
to 28 September

Richard 11. Photo by Sarah Walker
Photo by Sarah Walker

Mark Wilson and MKA made their unforgettable mark in last year’s Fringe with UnSex Me, Wilson’s penetrative riff on the Scottish play. This year, Wilson is joined by Olivia Monticciolo and they drag Richard 11 into the now to give the politics we seem to be supporting a good double dicking.

With Wilson as Richard and Monticciolo as his cousin Henry, they start as children playing and become adults playing at being Kings of Australia. With slabs of Shakespeare’s text and plenty of their own, the story is re-cast as the Rudd and Gillard leadership debacle with numbers meaning everything and a de-crowned King who isn’t afraid to do everything he can to undermine the woman who disposed him.

Here’s theatre that’s about now and us and isn’t afraid to question and scream about gender and power and how we accept too much that shouldn’t be accepted.

It’s political, funny, cruel, honest & what-the-fuck-have-we-done brilliant. And Mark wears gold tights.

It finishes today and it’s sold out.


Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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