(Fringe World, 2018)
On the 18th of January I ventured off to watch a play at Fringe World and little did I know just how remarkable the show would turn out be. Upon arrival I was somewhat early and decided to try a couple of wines on offer that night. Expensive nature of Australia and wine itself aside, the drink was refreshing and helped to lift the mood of myself and those within the Perth State Theatre.
The opening acts were what appeared to be improv music. The band was full of charisma and they seemed to gel with each other perfectly, bouncing ideas and insults off one another without a care about tomorrow. There was a certain level of sex appeal from the performance, highlighted when a female performer came out rocking a mini skirt and speaking in a seductive manner and flirting with a fellow band member that she later laughed at for having erectile dysfunction. The bassist of the band decided to strip off his shirt and start flexing for the crowd, and fortunately for some he decided to keep his pants on when the band urged him the bottoms could stay. Luckily this was an Australian show and the material was censored. If this was a show in the Netherlands, where full frontal nudity and sexual acts were displayed in shows (don’t ask) the audience may not have been given the same courtesy.
What I liked most about the FRONT performance was the reality that it provided. I have met many musos and the synopsis of this event, a play about an upcoming band on the rise to the top and the success and issues as they unfold on the way both within their personal life and their musical career, was most definitely accurate. In these settings, relationships are often tested either becoming more superior and unbreakable or simply they are crushed under the pressure neither to be restored again. Depends on the severity right?
This also took us through the typical view that is portrayed in the music industry by legends like Amy Winehouse, that although exceptionally talented, they could not cope with the stardom and turned to alcohol, sex and drugs. This was seen several times throughout the play, the partying, the bag of cocaine hidden away in the baggy showing the true underbelly of the music industry. The lead guitarist was the biggest culprit of this, rocking up to the recording session drunk and hangover and asking for 30 minutes to prepare before passing out in the falling studio.
The individuality of each performer was exceptional, from the serious producer to the stressed singer. They all had remarkable charisma and stage presence in their own entity, exceeding my expectations. The last musical I saw was Shrek: The Musical and although it was humorous and worth the watch, it gave myself a somewhat childish perception of theatre plays. No dragons or princesses were slain in this screening, but it’s fair to say the performers from FRONT certainly stole away the hearts of the audience and rescued us from our oh so busy lives to have a moment of humour filled peace and tranquillity. Laughing gas was not a necessity on this night to say the least.
After reviewing all performers, hands down I think the drummer would have to be the highlight in this production, with his extreme relatability uplifting energy, and naturalistic communication with the audience. Drummers are typically the ‘fun; members of the band, all they want to do is have some fun. One of the crew even referred to him as a ‘dog’ because he is always up to play. The fun nature of the drummer role was the soul of the music, often finding himself as being both the beat and the heart of the band, whether it is noticed or not.
Lastly, the thing that made this act possible and superior to others was its ability to incorporate personal interviews. It worked similarly to a documentary, bridging that gap from fake to real and establishing more of a rapport with the audience. If this wasn’t done, I think the show would have been half as engaging. They were okay as musicians, they were okay as actors, somewhat funny and somewhat dramatic, but what truly made this performance great was how they carefully pieced together the show with select moments of acting and music performances.
The performers of FRONT should be very happy with their act. Personally, I’d award the band 4 stars out of 5. The let down of the night was regrettably the venue itself, The Heath Ledger Theatre supplying very cheap uncomfortable metal chairs for the audience. When the audience were escorted into the building we had flights upon flights of stairs to walk down. One lady had to tell her friends that she couldn’t make it down and walked back to the top of the staircase and requested a refund. This is the 21st century and nearly all venues and events should have an ability to provide for those that possess a disability in case they are in need.
Issues with the venue aside, FRONT was a spectacular show of humour and reality, allowing audiences to not only loose themselves in the story before them, but also participate in it, all culminating into one enjoyable and engaging performance.