Adelaide Fringe 2023: ‘The Purple Rabbit Rides Again’

Words by Stephanie Babiak

Sometimes in life, what you really need is a little magic. If you can combine that with some good comedy and good company, then you’re pretty much guaranteed a good time. ‘The Purple Rabbit Rides Again’ is a perfect example of this, setting itself apart as a Fringe show well-worth adding to your ‘to see’ list.

Produced by the incredible team of Strut & Fret, ‘The Purple Rabbit Rides Again’ is a new take on their popular 2022 show. Fans of the previous iteration, as well as the company itself, will not be disappointed, with great performers delivering all the fun they’ve come to expect from this group.

The show brings together five talented individuals who each have their own unique approach to ‘magic’. This makes for some excellent built-in variety, meaning audiences get to experience classics including card tricks and various sleight of hand feats, along with some novel twists including cheeky burlesque interludes, foot juggling (it’s exactly what it sounds like) and readings from a certified sex-psychic (also exactly what it sounds like).

As with any show that incorporates a range of different acts, however, the success of the performance as a whole depends partly on how seamlessly these elements flow together. This is the one area where ‘The Purple Rabbit Rides Again’ may have benefitted from some tweaks. While each act was entertaining in its own right, the energy shifts between the more interactive performances and those which were more physical (and thus more detached by default) sometimes felt a bit awkward. When going from the raunchy fast-paced delivery of some of the magicians to something more visual like the burlesque interludes, the audience often didn’t seem to have enough time to fully settle back into awe and admiration as opposed to laughter and free-flowing conversation. In both cases, the acts themselves were great, but the order tended to take you ‘out of the moment’.

This minor criticism aside, ‘The Purple Rabbit Rides Again’ is nonetheless a great time. Thoroughly entertaining, properly funny and genuinely impressive, there’s plenty to love.

**** 1/2 – 4.5 stars.

Tickets provided free of charge for media review purposes.

Adelaide Fringe 2023: ‘The Party’

Words by Stephanie Babiak

Choosing a title for your latest Fringe show is tricky business. In the quest to catch the audience’s attention, it’s not unheard of for a production to pick something that promises more than it can deliver. With that in mind, ‘The Party’ was a bold choice, but the team of Strut & Fret knew exactly what they were doing and delivered every good thing the name implied, and then some.

A combination of burlesque, circus, dance, and comedy, the show loosely follows a group of raunchy and hilarious characters as they, well, party. It’s the kind of show that’s hard to explain on paper for the simple reason that words don’t really do it justice, and you kind of feel like you’d be spoiling it for people if you gave too much away. It strings together a range of acts that are each unique, entertaining and impressive in their own right, but when brought together feel like fun personified. Whether it’s the hilarious physical comedy and back-and-forth of two party-goers seemingly destined to spend a steamy night together, or the magical high-flying trapeze artist swinging gracefully above your head, there’s always something going on. One of the things that makes this show such a standout is not only how jam-packed it is, but also how flawlessly it manages to execute this potential chaos. No detail has been overlooked – the visuals, including a colour scheme and costume style that could perhaps best be described as the equivalent of a bag of skittles to the face, work seamlessly with a kick-ass soundtrack that will have you dancing in your seat. This is a show which is polished and perfected but flows so naturally that you’re too engaged with what’s going on to even realise you’re watching something staged.

The performers are beyond exceptional. Not only are they ridiculously talented in their various physical feats (whether that’s in dance, acrobatics, singing, or anything in between), but their seamless interaction with the audience adds a level of laughter and engagement that only the very best can pull off. This is a show where spending the extra money for a VIP ring-side seat is worth the splurge as the crew are outstanding at making you feel like a fellow guest at the party, even if you’re usually the type to studiously avoid eye contact when the call for volunteers goes up. The fun is so infectious that the most introverted among us will still find themselves keen to get up and dance – you just can’t help it. This sense of fun is what sets ‘The Party’ apart as unique. Seeing it play out is an absolute blast – you’ll find yourself grinning from ear to ear from start to finish. It’s the kind of show that’s an absolute joy to watch.

It’s not often that a production manages to juggle so many moving parts (both literally and figuratively) to deliver the kind of outstanding one-of-a-kind show that ‘The Party’ proved to be. Strut & Fret had already set a high bar for themselves with previous successful shows at earlier Fringe Festivals, but somehow they still managed to exceed expectations with ‘The Party’. If this is the kind of performance we can expect from them, then I’d highly suggest making their next offering the absolute top of your list for future Fringe fun.

***** – five stars

Tickets were provided free of charge for media review purposes

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