Can you believe it’s the 60th anniversary of the Adelaide Fringe? One of Australia’s best festivals is back and bigger than ever, with 1210 events by more than 7000 artists performed across 361 venues in the South Australian Capital. It’s the edgiest festival of the Australian calendar, both nurturing blossoming talent and celebrating beloved entertainment veterans in comedy, cabaret, dance, musical theatre, art, workshops and even magic.
The Adelaide Fringe Festival kicks off this week and runs for an entire month, from Friday February 14 to Sunday March 15. In that month you can expect to be enthralled, entertained, shocked, tickled and delighted by the pure range of entertainment on stage.[related_articles]79204,74841[/related_articles]
The programme for the festival is huge, naturally. Browse it by performance genre here, or check out our top picks below.
Our true recommendation, though, is to flick to a section of the programme and choose something at random. Don’t be too picky! You’ll probably be surprised (in a good way) by anything that’s running, and the joy of the fringe is the variety. Shows are usually on the short side, so you can fit a couple into a day or evening, and ticket prices range from free to pretty affordable.
Adelaide Fringe Festival: Nine Things You Can’t Miss
Genre: Cabaret/musical theatre
Marcia Hines – Australian music legend and Adelaide Fringe ambassador – rocks the stage in a “disco-fuelled cabaret spectacular” Velvet Rewired, a headline event of the festival. She’s joined on stage by acrobats, aerialists, singers all in glitzy, glamorous getup. It’s an all-singing, all-dancing, all-acrobatic circus musical spectacular, and emblematic of the fun and innovation of the Fringe.
The show runs through the whole Fringe and tickets start at $33, giving you plenty of time to catch it.
Black List Cabaret
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The Adelaide Fringe has a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture as a central part of its ethos, with a hub celebrating just that at the 2020 festival. Black List Cabaret is hosted by Fringe ambassador Fez Faanana, and brings “a celebration of iconic circus, dance, music, cabaret, burlesque & comedy artists of colour from across the festival”, with rotating artists – this may be one show to catch more than once across the month.
The show is held every Saturday of the festival, and tickets are $20.
Every Brilliant Thing
This solo show by Australian playwright Kate Mulvany chronicles a child’s coping mechanism as his mother deals with depression. He creates a list of all those little things that make life worth living, from old books to rollercoasters to laughing so hard you shoot milk out your nose. It’s a touching and intimate look at the things we would do for the ones we love.
Every Brilliant Thing runs from Tuesday 18 February to Friday 21 February, with tickets starting at $22.
Electric Dreams: Fire Escape[media_embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpbImFxkgcI[/media_embed]
Genre: Interactive/virtual reality
This virtual reality experience casts you in a suspenseful thriller, unfolding in real time. Look into the lives of Brooklyn tenants entangled in a murder as events unfold in real time. It’s an interactive show which promises a different experience for each audience member, mixing elements of gaming, film and episodic story telling. Be prepared for a cutting-edge adventure requiring you to tap into your “voyeuristic tendencies” as the truth is slowly revealed.
Electric Dreams: Fire Escape runs from Wednesday February 19 to Sunday 23 February, with four sessions per day, at 1.30pm, 3pm, 6pm and 7.30pm.
Gluttony Variety Showcase
Gluttony is an outdoor hub at the festival, hosting a large range of performances in many genres. The showcase is perfect if you’re new to the festival, want a taste of a bunch of different things, or just don’t know what the heck to see, damn it. It brings together a bunch of performers in the genres of comedy, magic, cabaret and circus into the one place, for the one performance. Sample a bit of everything.
While you’re in the Gluttony precinct, also check out the pop-up rooftop bar – the Johnnie Walker Highball Bar, with four special cocktail concoctions, mixing Johnnie with lemon, ginger, crisp apple or blood orange. The highballs will be $10 each, or you can do a $12 combo with a serve of popcorn created by hit Adelaide restaurant Africola.
The Gluttony Variety Showcase runs from Thursday March 5 to Sunday March 15, with tickets from $25.
A Simple Space
Genre: Physical theatre
This unpretentious show aims for the visceral, with circus performers on a stripped back stage where acrobats are pushed the their physical limits. The show promises to bring an ‘honesty’, with performers “breaking down their usual guards and introducing the reality of failure and weakness”, bringing personal narratives to the fore. Whatever that means, it should make for a pretty unique experience of physicality.
A Simple Space runs from Thursday February 20 to Sunday 15 March, with tickets starting at $25.
Giant Sing Along
This is billed as “the karaoke to end all karaoke” and if that doesn’t get you interested then we don’t know what will. Belt your favourite songs out loud, with a bunch of your favourite people by your side. Yes, it’s karaoke, but it’s group karaoke, so no one can hear how much your voice sucks. And for everything else – there’s built-in auto-tune.
The Giant Sing Along will happen every day of the festival, and it’s totally free.
The Art of Being Human
This is an annual Fringe event bringing the issue of homelessness to the stage, giving artists who may be experiencing homelessness a platform to perform and display their art. This year’s theme is having a voice through song, and the art and healing power of music, and will be soundtracked by an album written and performed by homeless artists.
The Art of Being Human will show on Saturday February 22, and is free.
The Fringe isn’t technically a comedy festival, but comedy makes up a huge part of the performances you’ll catch. Many of Australia’s best comedians, and a lot from New Zealand and elsewhere overseas, perform their best shows in front of festival audiences – and we know festival audiences are great audiences. At Fringe 2020 you can see Cal Wilson, Fiona O’Loghlin, Billy D’Arcy, Dave Hughes, Dave Thornton, Effie, Joel Creasey, Matt Okine and more or catch a mixed bag at The Best Of Fringe: The Late Show and The Best of Fringe: The International Comedy Show.
(Lead image: Adelaide Fringe Festival)