The Adelaide music scene: to many of you it might be little more than a touring speed bump between Melbourne and Perth but to us it's a way of life. Feast within, on all its dysfunctioning splendour, as we bring you the highly satirical, laughingly fictional and intellectually imbecile tales from our rock & roll wasteland...
(and yes I'll do my best to keep it "spoiler free"... but consider yourself warned)
Simply put Master's Curious Delirium is musical theatre at its most minimal and unadorned; and in many ways at its most "charming" as it finds a lot of its strengths in being all kinds of rough hewn, quirky, disarmingly honest and just a tad bit shitcrazy spontaneous and nonsensical: and not so much in being stock standard "musical theatre" (aaaah plastic fork, still in original packaging!). No I like to think of it more as a "live band" Bird Wizdom, that just so happens to be comprised of inmates from an insane asylum (so all the comedy, acting and dance routines simply flow naturally from there). One that features a (comparatively) small lineup here in Anya as lead: who sings, plays keys, ukulele (and occassionally dances); Josh Rice (aka: Bones) as her taunting "alter-ego" who also plays the occassional trombone... plus another "wind instrument" who's name I dare not spoil here (but it's easily the highlight of the entire night when he introduces it); Lilly Sim as Anya's faithful "sidekick" and bellydancer; and Matt Gorgula hidden waaay in the back on drums: who you might not notice half the time as short of his timely percussive skills? he doesn't provide any actual stage theatrics (he DID however choose to paint a blue stripe across his eyes tonight, you know... for what that's worth). However what's most striking about Master's Curious Delirium is just how much more structured it is. It's easily Anya's most elaborate "production" yet, and with this elaboration comes a considerable increase in "risk". There's greater emphasis on dramatic stage lighting, costuming (especially in the opening sequence: see above) oddball colourful characters, props and most notably the use of specifically timed "audio cues". And by this I mean a good part of their narrative plot progression is based upon a glorified self-help book "The Master's Guide To Life": where each chapter (and thus each subsequent act of the play) is announced and elaborated upon in dramatic voice over. And it's THIS that caused most of their dramas on opening night. As their technical crew couldn't quite get the dopey thing to work (fuck I dunno... itunes!?) resulting in frequent audio drop-outs or simply the wrong chapter being read out (to an embarassingly loud crackle and hiss) only for everyone to pretty much say "aaaah fuck it!" and wing it from there; often with mixed (and increasingly hilarious) results. Thankfully there's very little of that problem HERE tonight, short of one or two teeny tiny hiccups it's more or less smooth sailing... which is just as well because then you can concentrate on what really makes this show tick. And it's not so much for the story: "girl tries to find her way in the real world" by following various social conventions, only to fail miserably on all counts and crawl back into her shell again, oh and then there's some weird bit with a wolf giving everyone the finger... whatever that's all about!? (or in other words I'm a little confused over whether it has a happy ending or not?). Or even surprisingly for the songs: as much as Anya's lyrical wit continues to shine in just how tongue twistingly confused she gets. No what really wins you over here are the colourful characters. From Anya being the living embodiment of total and abject misery in "struggling artist" trying to fit in. To Lilly Sim (who's role in the overall story actually makes more sense this time) acting as both her sidekick and emotional core (most hauntingly so with her dancing "puddle of tears" routine near the end). To what really steals the show here: Bones. Acting as anything from world class misanthrope to the very definition of "tragic" romantic, he easily gets the both the best lines AND the funniest scenes (especially in the middle, oh you'll know it when you see it!) which might seem a little odd if you're at all familiar with Bird Wizdom's previous efforts: as up until now he's effectively been that weird "mute" lurking about the shadows looking five kinds of fucking peculiar with a trombone (I mean who knew he had such brilliant comedic timing!?) but he totally nails it. Yup in summary think of Master's Curious Delirium as a shitcrazy character study rich in social dysfunction: where each character plays an emotional facet to a fractured whole (or rather like 90's sitcom "Herman's Head" reimagined as a Looney Tunes cartoon?). It's both harrowing AND hilarious. And for what it might lack in a little spontaneity (and cast members) compared to their earlier works? it'll still slap you silly with plenty of charm.
12:25AM - With the show now all but over (again) and me more than satisfied that I finally saw the real deal this time and not another wacky "encore" of Binky & The Bung Mics (I mean as much as they were freaking hilarious? there is no way in hell you could repeated that magic!), I stepped triumphantly out of Nexus Cabaret; as much as I knew full well that I had nothing to do with said "triumph", and wondered out loud just where I should go next to drink myself stupid in celebration. I mean I could've just gone home and ended it right here but pfft... where'd be the fun in that!?
12:30AM - Now of course I could've just done the usual here: sought out the bleedingly obvious, maybe even reviewed a band at the "bleedingly obvious" and then got stupidly drunk at blah di blah you know whatever-the-fuck (what... do I even need to draw a map!?). But all that changed the minute I stepped outside, missed that last step, fell arse backwards over a retaining wall, only to find myself HERE in one of them whizzbang Fringe Festival "pop-up" venues. SHIT YEAAAH!! Now I've got no freaking clue what this place is called, but if ever you wondered what the deal was with that weird "sunken redbrick thingy" between Fowler's Live and Nexus but were always too lazy to find out!? WELL WONDER NO MORE!! because some "hilarious shitweasel" totally built a bar on it!
And it appears in landing here too: we've just answered that "age old question" we've likely ALL asked if ever we owned a bike, rode said bike to a university campus and chained it up to a pole, only to return a few short hours later TO said "pole", discovering some sphincterhead had totally stolen both wheels (because we forgot they were quick release wheels *facepalm*) only to scream at the top of our lungs (if only in our minds) "WHO THE HELL AND WHAT THE FUCK WOULD ANYONE WANT WITH TWO BIKE WHEELS GNNNAAARRRGGGHHH!?". Well it turns out in all those years and from countless universities across Adelaide they'd been saving them up for THIS EXACT PURPOSE. And as much as I DID swear profusely for a good forty five minutes carrying my bike frame home from Underdale Campus that one fateful day back in 1995 only to spend a whole month saving up $200 for replacements? I gotta admit it looking at this now... totally worth the inconvenience.
2:03AM - And it's here where I took the time to consider a great many mystery in life (which I admit might be entirely off topic to speak of in a live review of Bird Wizdom's "Master's Curious Delirium" but pfft... since when has that stopped me before!?). Like for instance was it true that bartender Annie Siegmann, occassional bassplayer for Bird Wizdom (see entirely on topic!) was in fact keeping a "baby sea cucumber" behind that portable bartop of hers? and if so was she in fact rearing it to maturation on a steady diet of crushed ice and lime slices? I mean I DID wonder that myself when she told me, I wondered if I'd half gone mad perhaps (as much as I stopped just shy of asking her where the batteries went). Oh and as for THIS!? yup I wasn't even kidding you when I said drinking under the table and how could you NOT with such fine gargoyle company as this?
2:35AM - But alas we eventually had to part ways: with my newfound gargoyle friends, with my comfy astroturf bedding, with my new favourite Fringe "pop up" venue I still haven't bothered to look up the name of and probably never will (because hell it'll just as likely close again in three weeks time when Fringe Festival ends anyways!?). And all of it completely unrelated to the fact I might have been wondering out loud to anyone within earshot what the exact period of time was in the late 90's when corduroy briefly became "popular" again. As much as I could remember it like it was yesterday... late 1997 to mid 1999? aaaah those were some wild times my friend! they were the salad days of corduroy, they were my... saladorduroy! And we laughed and laughed over that for good half hour or more, then it got a little weird, then it got a little bit awkward, then for some inexplicable reason I took this photo of Anya swinging on a pole here... and then I had to leave.
Hmmm yup I like to think it was a Saturday night well spent, don't you?