Monday, 25 February 2013

2013 Adelaide Fringe Review - Charles Barrington in One Character or Less

2013 Adelaide Fringe Review - Charles Barrington in One Character or Less
The Tuxedo Cat until 2 March

I can't help thinking that Adelaide punters are constantly missing a trick with Charles Barrington.  I have seen his last couple of shows here and the audiences have been - I am sure Mr Barrington won't mind me saying this - poor.  Not in terms of quality, of course (indeed, when I have been there the shows have been enthusiastically received), but certainly in terms of quantity.  I may be under a misapprehension here, and on nights when I haven't been in the house has been full, but it seems that Adelaide theatre-goers are depriving themselves of the real treat that is Anthony Rogers' delightful comic creation.

Part esoteric musings, part pseudo-Hollywood gossip, part lecture on bees, the actor-producer-writer-director Charles Barrington (he started as a child actor when he was very young...) has a unique way with a punchline; he will often not only lead you to it, but will sometimes wait for you to get there before him.  The show has a distinct, easy-paced, almost shambolic rhythm to it and there is undoubtedly more than a whiff of substance or alcohol abuse in Mr Barrington's past that goes some way to accounting for this.  The performance has spontaneity and charm and, as one would expect from an international star of Mr Barrington's stature, he has an easy - and yet arm's length - rapport with the audience.

I think Charles Barrington is one of the most unique comic personas to have appeared in Australia in the last few years, and one that has the potential to really grow.  The jokes are funny, the character has depth, and there is a rich vein of comic material to be mined in parodying the pomposity of the self-absorbed performer.  If a less frantic, more reflective style of comedy is what you are yearning for, I would urge you to pay Mr Barrington a visit, as I think an undiscovered gem is being hidden in full view, while Adelaide just doesn't seem to be looking.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

2013 Adelaide Fringe Review - The Blue Room

2013 Adelaide Fringe Review - The Blue Room 
by David Hare
Presented by 5 Pound Theatre, directed by Jason Cavanagh
Starring Kaitlyn Clare and Zak Zavod
At Urban Spaceman Vintage, 2/27 Gresham Street @ 9.00pm until 2 March

Standing out in a somewhat down-at-heel Gresham Street watching a Reeperbahnesque performance in a shop window makes a most interesting start to a theatrical evening.  The vintage clothing store Urban Spaceman is transformed into a performance space for this production of David Hare’s loose 1998 adaptation of Schnitzler’s La Ronde, and so the display window was put to novel use as a prologue to the play.

Despite being an adaptation, this is very much a David Hare play, in particular in its portrayal of incongruous, enigmatic relationships or encounters, such as that between the MP Charles and the model Kelly, or between the actress and the wealthy American, Malcolm.  Hare has long had a fascination with the power politics of love, and so it is not only the prostitute Irene for whom sex is a transaction.  Unfulfilled yearning - for love, for excitement, for a better world - is always at the heart of Hare’s plays, although in The Blue Room it is not always clear just what it is that the characters are yearning for.  There is the suggestion throughout the play that relationships and sex are a way of diverting ourselves from our disappointment with life, and that love, if it comes along, is but a temporary distraction, a way of momentarily forgetting an emptiness that the play would seem to be suggesting is at the heart of existence.

If this sounds as though it makes for an overwhelmingly grim evening, this is far from being the case.  The production is notable for a simply outstanding performance by Kaitlyn Clare.  Worthy of particular praise are her portrayals of the French au pair Marie, Kelly the eastern European model, and Emma the middle-class married woman, although all of her characterisations are of the highest quality.  When the characters demand it, she is in turn vulnerable, domineering, confused and calculating, and manages to play both youthful and more mature characters with equal precision.  Ms Clare’s physical characterisations were also deftly differentiated, and she can both totter on high heels when stoned and play the theatrical grand dame with equal elan.  This is a highly accomplished piece of acting and shows Ms Clare to be an extremely versatile actress with a great range, and we can expect to see her playing major roles in our leading theatres in the not too distant future.

Zak Zavod’s performance is perhaps less frequently engaging (although I would venture to suggest that this is as much to do with the playwright as with the performer), in that the range of characterisations is possibly too wide to reasonably expect one actor to take on, particularly in the no-frills world of fringe theatre.  It might be an unreasonable expectation for an actor to successfully engage with the characters of both Anton and Charles, and so it is not surprising that the latter was the least fleshed-out character in Mr Zavod’s repertoire.  Having said this, I nevertheless enjoyed his portrayal of the pompous playwright Robert, and Malcolm the American suitor, that latter being Mr Zavod’s most successful creation and providing one of the play’s stand-out scenes.

This production has attempted to make a virtue out of necessity in its staging and, one or two costuming quibbles aside, director Jason Cavanagh’s spare setting, limited lighting and imaginative use of an unconventional theatre space serve the play well.  However, it is Ms Clare’s performance that is the main attraction and if there is a better acting performance at this year’s Fringe, I should be very much surprised.

Cadogan and Hall at the 2013 Adelaide Fringe

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Finding a Tradie in Adelaide

Tradies SA is website dedicated to helping homeowners in Adelaide and South Australia to find a qualified, skilled and dedicated tradesman.  Visit the Tradies SA Facebook page to find out more.  
Finding a skilled, reliable and helpful tradesman in Adelaide is not always a straightforward business.  There are of course a great number of dedicated and professional tradies out there, but there are, sadly, also those who do not have the appropriate training and qualifications to provide first-class workmanship.  So if you need the services of a plumber, an electrician, or a gas fitter, how do you decide who to use?  What can you do to make an informed decision?  How can you avoid being left high and dry by unfinished or inferior work?

The first step is to ensure that any tradie with whom you are even considering doing business is appropriately qualified and registered, and has an ABN (Australian Business Number).  Builders, plumbers, gas fitters and electricians in South Australia are all required to be licensed by the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs.  Registered tradies will have a licence number, which can be checked and verified by visiting the OCBA website.  On this site, you can enter a tradie’s licence number (or other details, such as their trade name) in order to ensure that their qualifications and authorisation to operate are up to date and that they are properly insured.  Licensing is also an indicator of a tradie’s professionalism - an unlicensed tradesman may have suitable skills, but if they haven’t bothered to become fully registered it suggests that they are not committed to their trade and the development of their business.  If you don’t already have a potential tradie in mind, you can also use the OCBA website to find qualified and licensed tradesmen in your area.

Once you have found some registered tradies, how do you go about working which one is the right person for the job?

Personal recommendations can be invaluable.  Ask friends and family who have had work done who they used, and how pleased they were with the work.  If they would be happy to use them again, then this is usually a very good indicator that the tradie will be up to the job.

Websites can also be a useful guide to getting a feel for the professionalism and reputation of a tradie.  A well-established and reputable tradesman should say on their site how long they have been in business, for instance; some will include a portfolio of their recent projects or the names of business with whom they have worked; you might also find a section on the site offering testimonials from satisfied customers.  These can help to give you confidence in the reliability of their work as well as the level of service they provide.  It is also useful to check out their affiliations with professional industry bodies (e.g., Plumbers Industry Association, etc.), as this helps you to know that they are professional and adhere to appropriate industry standards.

If you are dealing with a larger contractor, it will be useful to get an understanding of how the company is organised.  If you decide to deal with a small firm, or a sole trader, this isn’t necessarily an issue, but if you are looking at larger contractors, a useful question to ask is whether they will be undertaking the work themselves, or sub-contracting it out.  If the latter is the case, it will be important to know that the workers doing the job will be properly trained and supervised.  Enquire as to who will be signing off on the job and how much direct input they will have in ensuring that the work is done properly and to your satisfaction.  In the case of certain types of work, gas fitting or plumbing for instance, you should also make sure that you receive a certificate of compliance at the completion of the job.

Any reputable tradesman will be more than happy to offer you a free quote on any proposed work, and this is a service that you should certainly take advantage of.  If you are really serious about getting a professional job done at the right price, take the time to cast your net wide.  In an ideal world, you should try to get five quotes for a job, but at a push three will help you to get a better understanding of what should be a reasonable charge for the job.

Perhaps the most important point to remember, however, is that the cheapest option is not always the best option.  For instance, if there is a big difference in the quotes you receive, it may make sense to look at the ones in the middle first.  And, if there are significant variations between your quotes, don’t be afraid to ask why this might be the case.  You may discover, for instance, a major difference in the materials being used, or a greater standard of personal service (such as complete site clearance after the work is completed), that accounts for the variance in the quotations.  Break any quote down as far as you can, and make your decision based on value rather than simply cost.

In any discussions with a potential tradesman, you should also have in mind a clear budget for the job (you will often find that there is flexibility in any initial quote) and be clear about your expected timeframe.  Have clear expectations in mind as to how quickly you want the job completed, and make sure that any quote your receive takes this into account.

Finally, it is also important to get a sense that any tradie you seek to engage will be properly focussed on your needs and requirements.  This may well mean that, all other things being equal, your final decision rests on your judgement as to how reliable and efficient you think they will be.  Above all, don’t be afraid to ask questions - find out what a particular tradie thinks sets him apart form his competitors, why he is the right person for the job, or what he thinks his particular strengths and skills are.  This will help you to get as full a picture as possible of their approach to their work and how reliable and efficient you think they will be.  Some jobs are small, others represent a major investment, but in either case it is important that you do all you can to give yourself peace of mind that you have made the right choice in your tradie.

Tradies SA is website dedicated to helping homeowners in Adelaide and South Australia to find a qualified, skilled and dedicated tradesman

Monday, 11 February 2013

What We're Seeing at the 2013 Adelaide Festival Fringe

Fringe time is upon us again, and we have booked a fairly eclectic group of shows - a number of old favourites are being revisited (although we're devastated that Judith Lucy & Denise Scott is sold out) and looking forward to seeing some new and interesting acts from around the world.

Reviews will be posted here and we look forward to reading comments, both on the shows we've chosen and what we have to say about them.

Wednesday 20 February
The Blue Room - Urban Spaceman Vintage @ 9.00pm
Thursday 21 February
Samantha's Hotline - Duke of York, 82 Currie Street @ 7.30pm
Saturday 23 February
One for the Ugly Girls - Tuxedo Cat @ 3.00pm
Lords of Luxury - Tuxedo Cat @ 7.15pm
Marcel Lucont: Gallic Symbol - Tuxedo Cat @ 9.45pm
Sunday 24 February
Charles Barrington in One Character or Less - Tuxedo Cat @ 8.30pm
Ex-German - Gluttony: The Pig Pen @ 10.45pm
Wednesday 27 February
Nik Coppin is Not Racist - The Austral: Red Room @ 9.45pm
Saturday 2 March
Jack the Ripper - Guthries: Eliza Hall, 126 Prospect Road @ 8.00pm
Sunday 3 March
5-Step Guide to Being German - The Austral: The Bunka @ 7.00pm
Friday 8 March
Eric's Tales of the Sea - Tuxedo Cat @ 6.00pm
Tuesday 12 March
Influence - Tandanya Theatre, 253 Grenfell Street @ 7.00pm

Cadogan and Hall are a team of freelance writers based in Adelaide, South Australia
See our reviews at or