Fringe Theatre

Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story

King's Hall

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Five stars

Lilith: The Jungle Queen

Traverse Theatre

Four stars

Foley Explosion

Cameo Cinema

Four stars

Neil Cooper

A STEEL shipping container stands at the back of the stage at the opening of Old Stock, Hannah Moscovitch's moving personal history of how her great-grandparents left Romania for Canada and carved out a life for themselves. When the container opens, it reveals a cluttered world occupied, not just by Chaya and Chaim, the couple who form the play's heart, but on a four-piece junkyard orchestra, who punctuate the play with the songs of Ben Caplan. Caplan narrates proceedings as The Wanderer, a top-hatted master of ceremonies who represents an entire Jewish community's sense of exile, as well as providing levity and a driving live score.

Christian Barry's production for the Nova Scotia based 2b Theatre Company is a joy. Moving between a comic courtship and the everyday hardships that shape Chaya and Chaim's future, both Mary Fay Coady as Chaya and Chris Weatherstone as Chaim play instruments inbetween conjuring up a much bigger picture of how the world was built on immigration. The fact that they and the band do this in an entertaining and heart-warming fashion makes for a thing of raw and unmissable beauty.

Runs until August 27.

IT IS a jungle sometimes in Lilith: The Jungle Queen, the Melbourne-based Sisters Grimm's wild forage into issues of identity and the animal mentality within us all that can't be tamed beyond surface civilised behaviour. The show opens in nineteenth century Holland, where wilfully phallocentric scientist Charles Penworth and his hopelessly devoted colleague Helen Travers are delivered a box from Borneo containing a feral orphan captured in the wild. Despite all appearances to the contrary, Penworth christens his new project Lilith, and, Henry Higgins-like, attempts to civilise his new charge, while Travers regales Lilith in girly finery.

Rooted in the broad strokes of queer cabaret, Declan Greene's gender-bending production is a glorious mess of comic variations on identity politics. Candy Bowers, Ash Flanders and Genevieve Giuffre make a mockery of the patriarchal gate-keepers of what constitutes everyday normality. There are even rapping lions who tell it like it is before a night at the opera looks very much like Eden.

Runs until August 27.

“HISTORY is a cacophony” says Rasputin in Foley Explosion, Julie Rose Bower's one-woman travelogue, the second show in the Cameo Live season of film-inspired or related performances. As the title suggests, Bower's piece is a sound based journey drawn from real life events from what sounds like a gap year full of incident and colour. As she sets out for Russia, interning on newspapers just as several stories with Russia at their centre are breaking, her encounters include cameos from Guy Fawkes and other insurgents.

While such a scenario resembles the labyrinthine twists and turns of a Cold War spy thriller, it is in the telling that makes Bower's show so special. Amplified heels, slamming doors and metronomic toys are looped in such a way as to create a found sound symphony that conjures up a very noisy world.

Run ended.