At last the wait is over and the Perth World Fringe has officially opened its doors to media, sponsors and eager audience members; and Aussie Theatre’s Claire Condry was there to report on the fun.
Russell Square, a quiet park parallel to the main centre of former Fringe activity the Cultural Centre, was transformed into The Pleasure Garden. The Fringe now has two major performing centres in the city.
Numerous tents and bars circled the park. Hundreds of festive red and gold Chinese lanterns set the scene. A d.j. mixed funky sounds as excited punters surged through the elegant arched entry to The Pleasure Garden. To quote Premier Colin Barnett. “Russell Square has never looked so good!”
Ever popular radio personality Russell Wolfe mc’d the opening ceremonies which were brief and to the point. A packed Speigeltent listened attentively and frequently broke into spontaneous applause in respnose to speeches by former Fringe Director Marcus Canning, present Director Amber Hasler and Premier Colin Barnett. After speeches Mr Barnett officially opened the Fringe by cutting a length of tickets held by two enchanting soubrettes.
Four hundred and fifty events is a pretty amazing tally for a three year old festival. The organisation of programming the events, venues, ticketing arrangements and so much more, leaves one in awe of the Fringe team.
As a taste of delights to come we were treated to two fabulous acts. Titty Bar Ha Ha, a recreation of a risqué wartime club. Two gorgeous English roses (thorns included), resplendent in fishnets, suspenders, tulle ballet skirts and luscious lacy bustiers. ‘Hope’ and ‘Gloria’, aka Boo Dwyer and Nai Bowen, sang beautifully and teased the audience with wicked double entendres. One audience member was coaxed to join them onstage and seemed to enjoy the lovely Boo sitting on his lap as she warbled away.
I met this duo earlier in the day and they were witty company indeed. Boo Dwyer is married to Australian stand up Mickey D. and they are on the road with their delightful toddler Gracie. .
Following this was a fabulously funny set by purple puppet Randy who seemed to have shrugged off his former partner the talented Sammy J. (actually I suspect he was behind the scenes).True to form Randy bagged other acts, the weather, the $6.50 Perth coffee and several other Perth icons. His excuse being that now Randy was sober he could be excruciatingly blunt.The crowd were in raucous stitches.
Another positive aspect was the presence of a myriad of young attractive volunteers in Fringe T- shirts and occasional eccentric accessories. How wonderful is their presence, boding so well for arts lovers, audiences and performers in the future.
The buzz was back. The vibe was great. The excitement and anticipation was palpable. Bring it on!