Adelaide Fringe 2014
Instead of a band or a DJ Cheryl hired actors as the entertainment for the evening, and boy do they entertain! The audience chose four plays—The Interpreter, The Needle and The Damage Done, Radio Foreplay, and InSex—which took everyday situations and dialogues to new comedic heights where each one starts off innocently enough but then spirals into madness and chaos through witty dialogue and exaggerated characters.
You know you’re in for a good night when Cheryl’s happy-go-lucky parents burst into the room cackling and guffawing, pleased as Punch that their daughter married the man of her dreams. They’re ready for a night of drinking, partying and merrymaking with friends and family, but not all goes to plan. There are already signs of tension between the newlyweds, but the audience does not have to time to speculate on how this ever after will end, as the hired actors take to the stage with The Interpreter. When the US Ambassador meets his counterpart from the People’s Republic of Luketia (somewhere between the Middle East and Russia is my estimation based on the language and persona of the Luketian Commander) it is a war of words as the two exchange curses and colourful insults that the trembling interpreter has difficulty expressing in both languages.
In between plays Cheryl’s mother and father take turns to work the room and make conversation with the guests/audience in an attempt to smoothen the transitions between plays and costume changes. The audience was also given a few opportunities to stretch their legs and get more drinks and food, but these intervals could have been smoother and less disruptive to the overall performance.
The expectations of men and women are challenged in The Needle and The Damage Done when Louise, an average 1950s American housewife uncovers her husband’s dark secret—Louise discovers an innocent object in her laundry that hints at sinister deeds; however, the reality of the situation and rapid change in characters results in hilarity and farcical notions of masculinity.
Radio Foreplay is a shining example of incredibly witty dialogue when BBC Radio 4 editor, Robin, liaises with a playwright and the radio station producer attempting to negotiate the level of offensive language that is acceptable to BBC Radio 4 audiences. The play transforms very cleverly into a one-sided steamy dialogue delivered with efficiency and competence. It informs and entertains the audience, as a good BBC Radio 4 play ought to, containing only the necessary explicit words written in their proper form.
InSex challenges notions of femininity—after a passionate session of love-making a couple of praying mantises are caught up in a dialogue that questions animal instinct and evolutionary possibilities as the male desperately tries to avoid the ritual disembowelment by the female. For a change the male character is emotionally charged and the female is rational and logical, an interesting and entertaining reversal of roles that has a hilariously satisfying and empowering conclusion.
The wedding guests/audience is then taken to the bridal suite where Cathy and Dave are struggling with her dress and the fact that the day is almost over. At this point the audience is convinced that the marriage won’t last, especially when the bride’s parents get involved bearing pliers, Stanley knives and lip balm. But there is always hope for a happily ever after and the night ends on a sweet note with the audience left wanting more from the vivacious, talented and endearing troupe.
David Tremaine, Annie Jackson, Bill Knowelden and Rebecca Norris are an incredible team and work together to bring Director, Nick Brice’s vision to life. Having seen other Bite-Sized productions in previous years I have come to expect nothing short of mesmerising, compelling and memorable plays brought to life by an assortment of talented actors. This season is no different, made only better by the venue, which was realistic for the wedding reception set up, and where it is easier for the actors and audience to interact in the same space.
Bite-Size Comedies à la Carte was an enjoyable selection of diverse flavours, emotions, humour and entertainment. The award-winning short plays from around the world are the perfect picking platter for this year’s Adelaide Fringe Festival.