Day 1 = Flight and Slow Rumba
By exactly 11.18am I’d made it through security at Melbourne Airport and was seated sipping a skinny cappuccino, waiting for my flight to Adelaide. The purpose of my trip to the city of churches is to check out the Adelaide Fringe Festival. I’m an Adelaide Fringe virgin and probably the oldest artist contemplating taking a show there in 2024. My play, Ghost Story, is based on the Henry James novel, The Turn of the Screw. Pushing my thoughts of ageism aside, there are plenty of organisations doing ageism better than me, I finished my coffee and danced to terminal 1 to the beat of a Cuban rumba playing on airport speakers. Fringe 2023 here I come!
2.10pm – I checked into the Ibis Hotel which was given the thumbs up by my friendly Indian taxi driver. Inside, my room had a fantastic view of rooftops, in other words, nothing special! Yikes 😳 Twin beds! Must be a mistake! Oh, well…I best find someone to fill the other small single bed 🛌
By 2.50pm I was ravenous and ordered a wrap from a mask-wearing man in an Asian food shop. Wow 🤩 What a creation, this guy knew how to toss eggs and cook, his crispy chicken wrap was a damn work of art. And art is the reason I’m in Adelaide after all.
First Show – Velvet Rewired
It’s 8.24pm. The line to get into Moa, the venue, is astronomical. It’s 40 degrees and a slight breeze has started blowing. I stand waiting to see Velvet Rewired with Marcia Hines. Inside, the crowd is hyped up, I’ve never seen a crowd so excited. The speakers pump out disco tunes as the DJ on stage plays along on bongo drums.
The show starts, Marcia belts out songs like Boogie Wonderland and It’s Raining Men, her voice a force of nature. The crowd love it, many reliving their younger days. A fat guy wearing yellow leotard steps on the stage and wiggles it for the crowd, they go bananas. Velvet Rewired is part circus and part discotheque, and I enjoyed it. After the show, I finish my night with a drink in The Garden of Unearthly Delights, at an outdoor piano bar. Rain gently falls in my wine glass and on me, cooling everything. I’m no longer a Fringe Festival virgin.
Day 2 = Friendship and Shit-face Shakespeare
9.07 am on Friday, I wake and stare out the hotel window at the cloudy sky then call an old friend from Sydney, who moved back home to Adelaide years ago. “Let’s meet at the Adelaide Arcade for coffee,” I suggest.
12.05pm – Finished chatting to my friend about life since leaving Sydney. How time flies! After two strong coffees, I’m revved up and ready for a spot of lunch somewhere. But where to eat? Lunch is definitely the best meal of the day for a solo traveller, eating dinner alone is too depressing.
Second Show – Best of International Comedy
I left the Ibis and headed to the Historian Hotel for the International Comedy Show, which I booked at the last minute. What does international comedy mean? Well, it means there’s an Australian, a Chinese girl, and two British dudes. Wandi, the rebellious Chinese chick turned out to be the most fun, and she also turned out to be a lipstick lesbian. Much to the surprise of the white straight audience. When she started talking about eating pussy you could hear a pin drop. Gradually the crowd warmed to her. At one point while talking about dating sites she held up a couple of fingers and announced, “This is a lesbian’s dick pic!” I liked her, she was bright, and she was educational too!
Third Show – Shit-faced Shakespeare
After lining up for over an hour to get inside the venue for Shit-faced Shakespeare, at 10.30pm I finally sat down, weary from my long day. To my surprise, Shit-faced Shakespeare was hilarious and woke me up. A blend of Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, with one entirely shit-faced actor. With a genuinely inebriated cast member chosen each night, no two shows are ever the same. I found the ridiculous concept hysterical and the production riotous. After the show, I walked home and fell into bed at midnight. I slept like a log.
Day 3 = Claudia vs Freak Out
I woke at 7.11am, still tired from yesterday. I was in no rush to be anywhere until 2pm, when I was seeing Aussie screen actress, Claudia Karvan, in The Goat or Who is Sylvia? Although it’s not officially a Fringe Festival show. I dressed and had a full breakfast at the hotel instead of my usual Manshake in my room. The fresh fruit bowl with cherries and yogurt was a good heart starter, but not so much the bacon, beans and eggs I ate first!
Fourth Show – The Goat 🐐
4.55pm and I’m back in the hotel after seeing Claudia Karvan in The Goat or Who is Sylvia? She performed alongside Nathan Page from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. They were both excellent. The play is about a man that is fucking a goat and is from the mind of American playwright Edward Albee (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf). It was a scream from start to finish. A great play that looks at the dark side of being straight, heterosexual, married and monogamous. In the end, nobody wins, not even the goat.
It’s 8.18pm and I’m resting in bed before I see the R-rated Fringe show, Freak Out. Earlier I stuffed my face with Doritos and salami I brought from Coles. Life on the road! There goes my diet.
Fifth Show – Penny Arcade and the Art of Becoming
I arrived at Fool’s Paradise and grab an apple cider, my taste for alcohol is changing the older I get. To my surprise discover Freak Out is on in March, it’s still February. So instead at 10.15pm, I end up watching one of Andy Warhol’s superstars, Penny Arcade in The Art of Becoming Episode 3. Penny is 73 and has lived a full life on the edge of fame. She chats about New York, mostly in the late 60s and early 70s. From Andy Warhol to overdosing in a shooting gallery, nights out with Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim via a threesome in an LGBTQ backroom, and befriending Patti Smith while strolling down Christopher Street. Penny shares stories of New York’s underground before it changed forever. Her conversation brought back memories of a play I wrote called Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame. Which was last produced in 2015. Back at the hotel I look up Penny Arcade on Wikipedia and notice we shared the same birthday (but not the same year) the 15 July. How very curious, I thought, as I drifted off to sleep dreaming of someone Penny Arcade called a close friend, Quentin Crisp.
Day 4 = Silence
Sunday morning started with a coffee and a Manshake. I had very little to do until late afternoon when I was seeing an Irish show called Choir of Men and going to a concert event, Silence. So, I decided to live dangerously and improvise, I headed out, not really knowing where I was going. I ended up at the beachside suburb of Glenelg. I thought I’d post a selfie I took there as I’ve nothing much to say except I listened to Sylvester singing, “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real,” on the tram ride back to the city.
Sixth Show – Choir of Men
At the hotel I prepacked before my flight in the morning, had a coffee and headed out. The sun scorched my skin as I walked and the day had that casual Sunday feeling. Dressed in a black T-shirt and army shorts I felt good about myself, taking in the sun’s rays.
7th Show – The Silence
The outdoor event, The Silence, is both a live celebration and a show. I found a comfy plastic chair and had a cheeky vodka as I waited. The sunset over Adelaide was pretty and the bands, mostly from Melbourne, were all good. At around 9.30pm, The Silence began. Reminiscent of the characters from Mad Max, a group of men climb a giant purpose-built mountain and proceed to bang a series of drums in tribal rhythm. What follows the beating drums is an explosion of colour, movement, precision and fireworks. It was spectacular and a fitting end to my Adelaide Fringe experience.
Adelaide Airport – 8.50am. I step out of the taxi and enter the terminal. My Adelaide Fringe experience is over. Will I bring my play Ghost Story to the Fringe next year? I need to think about it 😊 On the Sydney-bound plane, I’m seated beside a woman from Sweden who was in Adelaide with The Choir of Abba. Yes! A choir that sings only Abba songs. “Where did you perform in Adelaide?” I ask. “Everywhere. For the rainbow crowd, you know? For…oh, how do you say it in English? For Equality! We’re coming back next year to Australia. To Geelong.” I think for a moment. “The Winner Takes It All is my favourite song by Abba,” I confess. “Mine too,” she smiles back. I look out the cabin window at the passing clouds, my Adelaide Fringe 2023 experience etched into my memory forever.
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