"One of the great things about Melbourne Fringe is the way it brings people together from all over the city," opines its independent arts manager, Felix Preval. "Personally, I go and see shows on my own all the time and it’s a great way to meet new people. You’ve instantly got something to talk about."
Whether you're a lone wolf or like to party hearty, Preval has curated some options for Time Out readers this festival.
What to see at Melbourne Fringe if...
...you’re on a first date and want to impress.
"Comedy is a great way to break the ice if it’s a first date. There are some great shows in this year’s comedy programme; everything from festival favorites like Dave Callan (doing a comedy dance show) and Sammy J, to next-big-things like Luke McGregor and Dr Professor Neal Portenza. The Last Temptation of Randy is definitely a hit for a date though, as there are no hard feelings when your date ends up with a crush on a puppet.
"If you’re wanting to show a more intellectual side in your post-show conversation at the Warren Bar (downstairs at North Melbourne Town Hall), choose something from the performance programme. There are heaps of great new works by some of Melbourne’s hottest young theatre companies. Homage to Uncertainty is a beautiful, funny and thought-provoking show that’ll give you plenty to talk about afterwards. It also won the Adelaide Fringe Tour Ready Award."
...you’re with a bunch of girlfriends who are up for doing something with a talking point.
"Girls' night! Sure. I’d definitely start with the cabaret programme for a girls' night. Maybe Gillian Cosgriff’s This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things – she’s hilarious; it’s like an episode of Lena Dunham’s Girls, only told through original songs. Lady Sings It Better and Keira Daley: Lady Nerd are other sure-fire cabaret shows to start off a fun night out with a group of friends.
"After the show? You’ll want to head straight to the Fringe Club in North Melbourne Town Hall and be ready to dance. There are 12 fantastic nights of free entertainment programmed at the Fringe Club and some seriously fun dancing to be had."
...you’re out drinking with the blokes and would feel a bit embarrassed suggesting something too arty or involved.
"Maybe look to comedy as the first port of call though if the guys aren’t up for crying in front of one another. Two great shows that are very much geared to the demographic are Raiders of the Temple of Doom’s Last Crusade – the title says it all. Stephen Hall performs the classic action trilogy in a single sweaty hour. Another brilliant pop-culture adaptation is Wolf Creek: The Musical. Yep, a musical. I saw it at the Adelaide Fringe and it’s the funniest, wrongest thing you’re likely to see this Fringe. Burlesque super-star Gypsy Wood, Queen of Kink, is doing a late-night show that might also pique the interest of a few boys.
"Afterwards? Again, it’s all about the Fringe Club. There are some great nights of live music, comedy and circus. Tone Deaf are presenting a night celebrating Melbourne’s DIY rock scene – DIY or DIE – which has a killer line-up of local musicians forming a once-off super band and rocking through 30 years of local underground hits. Die Roten Punkte’s Circus Discotheque looks like a great night as the best of Melbourne Fringe’s circus programme battle it out to a soundtrack of pumping pop and rock. Also, if all the girls from the previous question are there too, there’ll be someone new to dance with after..."
...you’re up for a total spectacle to splash all over Instagram.
"If you’re wanting big, Pretty Peepers: An Untraditional Cabaret has spectacle written all over it. Hosted by Glitta Supernova, the show started off in Sydney, became an underground sensation and sold out completely at Melbourne Fringe last year. Their new show promises to be wilder than ever, with something for everyone (well, except the kids)."
...you’re a bit tired but wouldn’t mind dropping into something in the city on the way home. You know, so you can say you’ve done a bit of Fringe.
"There are some great venues right in the heart of the CBD – the Butterfly Club, Tuxedo Cat and the Imperial Hotel all have great programmes of comedy and cabaret, and programming starts early enough for you to get in some post-work laughter before heading home (if you really are too tired to join us at the Fringe Club).
"Otherwise, drop by and check out the Digital Gardens project. It’s happening in City Square and outside Prahran Town Hall – there’s a bunch going on, including a cool collaboration between some digital game designers and Festival artists. Swing by and say hi or stay and play."
...you like meandering on your own.
"This year’s visual arts programme is particularly strong – there are a bunch of really dynamic group shows and solo exhibitions covering all forms of fine art practise – ceramics, sculpture, painting, photography and digital works. You could easily while away a weekend in the Festival on a gallery crawl.
"If you’re still on your own come nightfall, there are some great works in the live art programme that are specifically designed for an audience of one. With Red Like Our Room Used to Feel, Scottish poet Ryan Van Winkle is shipping his bedroom over from Edinburgh for an unusual but beautiful spoken word performance. Confetti is another work for an audience of one – exactly what happens is a surprise but it’s a party in a box and you’re the only one invited. Both these shows happen in the early hours of the evening in the Warren, the chill-out bar downstairs in the Fringe Hub."
...you’ve got one night to hit the town and you want to do a bit of a localised crawl.
"If you can only go to one place but want to experience all that Melbourne Fringe has to offer, the place to go is North Melbourne – the Fringe Hub takes over the Errol Street precinct, with ten performance spaces, two bars and the Fringe Club, all a few seconds walk from each other. It’s possible just to turn up and plan your night when you arrive, though a lot of shows sell out, so it’s worth booking in advance if you’re dead keen on a certain show. There are lots of great places to eat in the area so you can get in an early show, have dinner and come back for another show before hitting the Fringe Club. That’s what I’ll be doing anyway!"
...you want something awesome you can take the whole family to.
"There’s a dedicated kids' programme in the guide, so that’d be a good place to start, but if your kids are a little bit older you might want to look to the circus programme. Gasworks Arts Park has a great circus programme this year, with plenty of matinees if you’re not up to going out after dark. There are some comedy hits for the family too, if the kids are out of short pants but are too young to leave alone. Try Barry Morgan: Organ Is Not a Dirty Word – it's comedy gold for the young and not-as-young alike!"
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