Melbourne Fringe: Best of part 2

My biggest Fringe fear is being the only person to turn up (it has happened), but  it’s been full houses all weekend. In the Hub and other Fringe theatres, audiences are taking chances and seeing shows. Sold out signs are even appearing, so it’s best to book all of your tickets now. Book for the ones that you’ve heard good about and always choose another one that you know nothing about. It might be a dud, but it might be the thing that makes you laugh or cry so much that your life feels better.

As it’s Sunday at the Fringe, if you’re planning to see shows tonight, remember that most start an hour earlier. And as spring is really springing, it’s also a perfect day to get out and wander to some galleries and check out the Visual Arts program.

It’s hard to choose today’s shows, because I haven’t seen a dud. There are a couple that I’m still thinking about them, and one that has divided opinion so much that I my need to see it again (Kids Killing Kids).

Today’s are shows that are about the hearts of the real people behind the false glitz of fame or a vagazzling in a suburban beauty parlour.

FOMO is on upstairs at Errol’s (at the Fringe Hub: go through the restaurant and up the stairs) and Songs for Europe is away from the Hub at Broken Mirror in Brunswick; it’s away from the buzz of the Hub, but there’s a bar, comfy couches and the chances of meeting someone who loves Eurovision is pretty high.


A Sauvy B Sunrise is sauvignon blanc, orange juice and raspberry cordial. Zoe Macdonald (who was the best friend in the wonderful Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert) is every character in her show and far more top shelf than the cocktail that I shouldn’t judge so harshly before giving it a go.

FOMO is the fear of missing out and from the studio of the Mellow FM radio station, our Sauvy B drinking host has a creamy smooth voice like a Baileys on ice and welcomes the guests and callers to the “Let’s be honest” hour. From a New York researcher to a swearing suburbanite (yes, I mean bogan), there’s talk of pubes and vajazzling and a reminder that it’s called a vagina, but it all comes back to the one thing they all coincidentally have in common: Zoe Macdonald.

With a fear of ageing, questioning of sexuality and the usual ‘am I too fat and hairy questions’, we finally meet the real Zoe, and these moments of reality made me want to see more of her and less of her zany (and wonderfully performed) characters.

Devised by Zoe and directed by Bryce Ives and Nathan Gilkes (the Margaret Fulton team), FOMO is an hilariously honest look at the Zoe’s life and a reminder that the only thing that makes us miss out is the fear that we may miss out.

Songs For Europe
Songs For Europe

Nul points. If you think a one-star review is humiliating, imagine getting 0 stars when the people around you got over 100 for also singing a cheesy song, with a perfect key change, while wearing a fabulous gown as millions of people watch you on the telly. Songs for Europe isn’t about the fabulous hair and endless glitter of Eurovision; it’s two stories about people who love the contest, but wish that it wasn’t part of their lives.

The first play, by John Richards, is an imagined back-stage encounter with a woman who didn’t get a single point. Years later, she is still performing, and is tracked down by a British journalist who is trying to interview all of the nul pointers. Full of heart, it’s a work that has a spike under every joke, gently questions its audience far more than the singer, and remembers that there are real people behind our wittiest mocking.

The second play, by Lee Zachiriah, is about a group of revolutionaries on the eve of the 1974 Portuguese Revoution. Waiting in a cafe, they listen to the radio waiting for the signal to storm the streets: a Eurovision song. One is more passionate about the song contest than the pending revolt, but all have to change their plans when a stranger orders a muscatel and possibly knows what they are waiting for.

Both are full of Eurovision facts and the blend of real and fiction is flawless enough to ensure that those who see it will be adding these stories to their own Eurovision memories, but the hugeness and glitz of their Eurovision background needs to be brought more onto the stage and into the world.

Songs for Europe is on tonight and next week. The performers (Marta Kaczmarek, Nick Colla, Angus Brown, Noah Moon, Jack Beeby, Chris Broadstock and Petra Elliott) are consistently terrific and the writing surprises at every turn.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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