Review: Best of Fringe Variety at the Parasol Lounge, Gluttony

By Carly Fisher

If you’re looking for a fun way to get a taste of the fringe, look no further than the Best of the Fringe Variety show. Offering snippets of performances from fringe performers across genres, this is a great way to either help you decide what shows you want to go and see, or for the time poor, to get to see a number of shows for the price and time of just one!


The show changes regularly with different performers invited to participate depending on the evening. The night I attended, the show was opened with a Carol King banger of a song, sung by Phoebe Katis, currently in town performing in The Carol King Story. Already, the crowd was into the evening’s performance thanks to the dynamic Katis and the energy in the Parasol Lounge at Gluttony was pumping.


Unfortunately, a downside of the performance was that the introductions of the performers were often tricky to catch and no program for the night is listed anywhere.


After some magic tricks (not usually my thing but the MC for the evening was especially engaging!) and some really good stand up from our Master of Ceremonies, the next act blew me away. A master with the hula hoops, the young man before us flipped and tricked his way around 8-10 hula hoops – never dropping one and never blowing a trick. He was just amazing! I love acts that feature hula hoops – many of us will remember having a crack at the plastic hoops as children and if you remember that, you probably remember that it is certainly not easy! You wouldn’t know how challenging this art form is based on watching this performance – a consummate performer who I hope to get to see again soon!


Up next was a stand up comedian who didn’t seem to be having a particularly successful night. With failed card tricks and poor jokes – it was punch line after punch line with no story or build surrounding his private eye character. This performance didn’t do it for me – especially not after the excitement of the hula hoops before.


A clown came out next and normally this would hold little to no appeal for me but I was very impressed by his ability – with no words – to engage the audience and to be both funny and endearing. His balloon jokes were certainly the highlight for me as they were seriously funny. His main skill was throwing a broom between two drumsticks and keeping it up – may sound silly but truth be told, most of us would have dropped that broom. It is nice that the fringe gives people the opportunity to perform this skills and I was really glad that the clown was as great as he was – he absolutely had this audience in the palm of his hand.


Prior to the final act of the evening, Katis performed ‘Natural Woman’ and again, the audience was completely in the palm of her hands – Carol King is such a crowd pleaser and boy did Katis please! Wrapping up the night, the young performance troupe from Canberra – Blind Spot Circus – did some impressive tricks, many flips and lots of throwing and catching each other mid-air. It was terrifying and exciting all at once and though the team needs more performance experience (they are really young!), the audience supported them all the way.


If you’re in town for a short period like me but want to see a lot, or if you’re unsure of what to see, or simply if you’re looking for a really great way to spend an hour on a weeknight, get out and support the artists at the Best of Fringe Variety. It is certainly entertaining and you have to commend these artists for getting up, having a go and really doing their all to share their talents!


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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.

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