Features/What to SEE/Fringe World Festival/Multi-arts

Summer showtime: Get ready for the curtain call

28 January 2023

In our final selection from the Fringe smorgasbord, we delve into February fare. You’re bound to find something to take your fancy. 

You’re probably too busy enjoying your first forays into Fringe to worry about the next, but we’ve cast our eyes ahead to give you plenty of time to get your act – or acts – together. 

Our final list is a blend of the quirky, creative and outrageous that makes this festival so much fun. And If you haven’t read them already, check out our guides to the opening acts and act two, as many shows have longer runs.  

Seesaw’s reviewers are, of course, already on the case, casting their eyes and ears over dozens of other delightful and devilish performances to help you determine what deserves your dollars. Stay tuned to Seesaw this summer. 

For musical misfits 

A woman with short blond hair stares into the distance, mouth open. Behind her is a huge still of Danny in the movie 'Grease'. This is from Grief Lightning, to be shown at Fringe.

Grief Lightning
7-12 February @ The Little Palais at Perth Cultural Centre 

What if everything in Grease was just a feverish dream as Sandy lay dying, Danny unable to rescue her from the waves as the lyrics of ‘Summer Nights’ maintain? In Grief Lightning, a desperate lecturer tries to convince her students (the audience) of the veracity of this enduring internet theory, dismantling the 1978 film’s plot and examining problematic lyrics. Lest you despair all the probing will destroy the misty-eyed nostalgia for a pop culture icon, this Powerpoint with a difference is laced with humour. From Paper Mouth Theatre and Wickedly Good Productions.

A manic musician with long hair, bear and painted face grins like a Cheshire cat into the camera. He is holding a bright red viola. This is Viola Willy, aka William Smith.
Viola Willy fights musical boredom. Photo supplied

Viola Vaccine
9-12 February @ Four5Nine Bar 

Think you know the viola?  Musical comedian William Smith, aka Viola Willy, returns with the sequel to Viola Virus, in which an out-of-tune epidemic shut down orchestras everywhere. Now a vaccine has arrived, but can it save the sound? Viola Willy finds an orchestra captive to The Theory and ruled over by a conductor hellbent on enforcing boring music.  In this madcap one-man show, the Albany based performer (who Seesaw readers might also know as William James Smith, the composer behind the musical Human Services) plays six crazy characters and sings nine original metal songs – all while playing the titular instrument. Turn the volume up to 11! 

For thrills and spills 

A circus performer in a cropped long-sleeve top and leotard shorts stands on one leg inside a hula hoop. She is spinning another six hula hoops off her arms and other leg.
This is Lisa Lottie from Circus Trick Tease.
Lisa Lottie can spin those hula hoops. Photo supplied

Werk It
3-19 February @Big Top at The Pleasure Garden 

Wearing block colours that put The Wiggles to shame and more spandex than a 90s gym bunny, the performers from Circus Trick Tease are back to werk it, werk it, baby. With displays of dexterity, strength and acrobatic brilliance, the celebrated troupe (boasting three soldout Edinburgh seasons, for starters) also want to make you feel good. Expect plenty of laughs amid the thrills and skills, all set to a soundtrack that will put a bit of swagger in your hips. 

For immersive adventures 

A curly-haired man wearing a brown jacket leans in to a bunch of old radios, one hand on a button. This is Paul Rowe as Wally Coxon for Ghost in the Machine.
Paul Rowe channels radio legend Wally Coxon in ‘Ghost in the Machine’. Photo supplied

Ghost in the Machine
17 February @ Wilo outdoor grassed area, Yagan Mia Wireless Hill 

Step into the 1920s with this immersive walking tour of historic Wireless Hill and discover a forgotten legend.  Comedic actor Paul Rowe plays Wally Coxon, an engineer and the original “king of Perth radio” whose technical genius paved the way for future generations. Presented by audiovisual artist Will Axten, the tour will also take you inside the Signals Sound Laboratory, an installation crammed with 80 years’ worth of electronics, for an interactive exploration of sound. 

Pull up a stool at the Half Mad Bar. Photo supplied

Half Mad Bar
17 February @WA Museum Boola Bardip 

Unwind with a little bit of magic, as video and projection artists VJZoo light up the Old Gaol with large-scale moving art. This free event draws inspiration from the museum’s superb Wonderland, an exhibition exploring Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Fancy a Drink Me cocktail or a spot of flamingo croquet? Dress as the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, or the heroine herself and pull up a stool at the Half Mad Bar.  With a playlist from Perth’s coolest DJs, this is a place where being half mad ain’t half bad.  

Performers clad in brightly coloured blow-up suits that resemble starfish surround an actor sitting in a wheelchair, wearing a beanie, jeans and bright jacket. They are waving their arms about as if in water; there is an ocean backdrop. There are from Wilbur the Optical Whale.
Can Wilbur and Cecil beat the Starfish Meanies? Photo supplied

Wilbur the Optical Whale
3-4 February @ Rehearsal Room 1 at State Theatre Centre of WA 

Delve into a magical underwater world designed to spark children’s imaginations and encourage interactive play in a relaxed environment. Wilbur and Cecil love hanging out together, playing hide and seaweed. But when the Starfish Meanie Gang arrive, they are set adrift. Can you help them? Presented by indelabilityarts, which provides training opportunities for artists and community members who identify as having a disability, this gentle tale celebrates difference in all its glory. 

For late night lovers 

Six raunchy performers in various states of undress pose for the camera. Most are in sparkly and skimpy leotards, the one at the back raises arms clad in gauzy material above their head like wings. 
They are the cabaret queens Yummy.
Cabaret queens strut their stuff. Photo supplied

Yummy Iconic
3-18 February @ The Aurora Spiegeltent at the Pleasure Garden 

Melbourne cabaret queens Yummy turn their high heels, sequins and perfectly toned buttocks to the stars – earthly, not celestial – in their new show Iconic. The award-winning company promises a riotous celebration and subversion of cultural icons, legends and superstars, with an intoxicating array of talent. Certainly their costumes are out of this world. With a mix of drag, burlesque, comedy, circus, song and dance, will you be starstruck? 

For film buffs 

An old-style brown TV with large knobs on the side bears a poster telling everyone about the Cygnet Student Film Festival.
WA’s budding filmmakers hit the big screen.

Cygnet II
4-5 February @ The Backlot Perth 

Is there a future Baz Luhrmann or Jane Campion in our midst? Get down to the Backlot to see what the next generation of filmmakers has been creating. This second celebration of WA’s budding swans will feature a variety of short-form documentaries, as well as scripted and experimental shorts. Enjoy this showcase from local independent and student filmmakers in the Backlot’s luxurious 50-seat screening room, with a bevy or two from the bar. 

Pictured top: Viola Willy is on a mission to save the orchestra from itself. Photo supplied

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Author —
Julie Hosking

A journalist with more words to her name than she can count, Julie Hosking has worked for newspapers, magazines and online publications in Melbourne and Perth. She has been a news editor, travel editor, features editor, arts editor and, for one terrifying year, business editor, before sanity prevailed and she landed in her happy place - magazines. If pushed (literally), she favours the swing.

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