Crossroad Arts ‘Loose Ends’ A Review.

Crossroad Arts Inc collaboratively develops opportunities for people who experience a disability and those in aged care, to access and participate in the arts, and on Saturday night I got to see one of their shows for the first time at one of my favourite venues, Dirty Martinis. A show, I must point out, that was sold out before opening!

The performers in this production treated their audience to a show that was very much like a cabaret. Divided into two acts, the production featured a handful of solo and collaborative performances that were strung together with a mix of crowd participation activities hosted by their charming MC’s, the cheeky Georgia Knoll and the bubbly Alison Richardson and translated by the sign language interpreter Arna, who I have to say I am in complete awe of. I’ve been meaning to learn sign language for years but am still at the spell everything out with the sign alphabet stage, and watching her hands fly about so effortlessly has inspired me to delve back into all the books I bought on the subject a few years ago. 

I had a wonderful time and my expectations were not only met but superseded by the talent these incredible individuals had to offer and I learned more about what it was like to have a disability in one evening than I have in years due to being shown rather than told. The acts were incredibly varied so it never felt like too much of any one thing, and the affect that the performances had on me ranged from moving, to shocking, to hilarious to downright inspiring. And to make it even more worth the while, they used the evening’s production as a platform for change, and I’m thrilled that they’re spear-heading a campaign to get restaurants in Mackay to print up at least one copy of their menus in braille to make venturing out that little bit easier for people the people who can’t communicate with the ease that so many of us take for granted.

The featured group of the evening was the Sydney-based performing arts band Ruckus who have made a real name for themselves over the years as 5 piece performance group who all have Down’s Syndrome, but there were a few other groups as well, I very much enjoyed Brendan Borellini’s piece with Matt Tandy, Dear Olga, mostly because it brought to my attention that the way he writes is not that different to the way that I (and I’m sure most of us think) and his 3D art displays were so fabulous that I sort of blew my raffle-ticket budget trying to win one. In addition to that, there was a 4 person act called ‘Way up North’ which was incredibly detailed and moving performance that commanded the unbroken focus of the hushed crowd and was accompanied by rolling footage of the region for a personal touch. 

As for the solo acts, local artist Joel Bow entertained us with his rendition of Defying Gravity. and 16 year-old artist Jade Fiyen sang some beautiful songs while accompanying herself on her ukulele, including You Are The Only One and Boys Will Be Boys. Jade has one of those lilting, Indie voices that lulls people into a trance-like state, so she had the audience in the palm of her hand the whole time. Georgia Rose Cranko is a performer from Sydney who has Cerebral Palsy, and she filmed a riveting piece of her getting undressed and dressed again- showing that she has everyday struggles but that in the end we’re all people. Georgia Rose’s personal platform is NO PITY.

The star of the evening for me, however, was Miss Georgia Knoll who might just be one of the sassiest performers that I’ve ever seen on a Mackay stage. I don’t know how much of her emcee act was an actually an act and how much was improv, but she was cheeky and beguiling and had as much stage presence as anyone I’ve ever seen locally to date. Georgia interacted with the crowd the most, and I got a kick out of the karaoke game that she hosted at half-time, which started with her performing the opening to a song, and then like with freeze-tag, paused it- giving the eager members of the audience the chance to finish it and win a prize. This little adventure (followed by a lolly drop) was so much fun, not just for those that participated but for those of us that sat back and watched as the ones with special needs in the crowd were treated to a truly fantastic night out that had been created with them in mind as a priority, not as an afterthought. 

That being said however, the night was truly entertaining and accessible to all, and I hope that the next show sells out twice as fast as this one did because the performers have worked as hard as any other local performer has and what the stories that they have to tell need to be seen, heard and understood. Follow Crossroad Arts on facebook to hear about their next performance: The Unlikely Tour, set to be staged during The Mackay Festival Of Arts. 

A standing Ovation for the team at Crossroad Arts behind the scenes, as sponsors and onstage! Until next time 🙂

The Time Of My Life ‘Jerry Seinfeld’ Live Review

Jerry Seinfeld

Boondall Entertainment Centre Brisbane

August 9th 2017

★★★★★

I’m still quite the ingenue when it comes to reviewing and when it comes to Jerry Seinfeld I’m a confirmed fan for life, so here’s what I have to say bout his performance in the Brisbane Arena, Boondall on Wednesday July 9th:

It was the best thing I’ve ever seen.

Quite a complex review, isn’t it? Well I’m sorry if I don’t have 300 paragraphs of yada yada for y’all, but Jerry was on from the moment he walked onstage, and I daresay he stayed good and on long after he walked off it. Hell, can’t you just imagine him in a coffin one day, arms folded, looking around and going: ‘What’s the deal with the air flow in these things?’ because he was born to do what he does and I’ve no doubt that he’ll die doing it and linger on afterwards as a sarcastic presence in the air.

I consider myself to be quite the collector of comedians. I’ve been watching them on DVD and live for years and I’m no stranger when it comes to the muffled-splat of jokes falling flat- the empathetic ‘You can do it’ titters that come from the most easily-amused fans in expectant crowds after a comedian has swung and missed. (Often, it’s me) I’ve even seen this happen to Jerry a few times over the years (‘Move the shoes, move the shoes, move the shoes…’ Yes please move the shoes to a segue and faster) and it’s something that you just expect to see at any comedy show. I still fast forward certain bits of Eddie Murphy Raw and Delerious because I have no idea what he’s talking about and don’t care to look into it.

But not at Jerry Seinfeld nope, he shot one-liners and multi-faceted paragraphs out like he’d swallowed a fully-loaded wit clip and used every laugh as  the bolt that he slid back for the next. I was sitting between an elderly gentleman and a guy ten years younger than me and they laughed at everything as much as I did, and the laughs were so big that we ended up swaying back and forth and over one another in our squishy seats with no personal space bubble necerssary because we were all in this together.

He is just so good at this. The comedian that came out before him was amazing and I think a lot better than anyone expected. We were still laughing at his jokes when Jerry waltzed out but from the moment the veteran opened his mouth, you could see why we all paid the steep price to get that ticket and then be squished in together- Jerry Seinfeld is the best stand-up comedian in the world and I don’t think he’ll ever be surpassed. He could go on tour at 90, and there will be tens of thousand of people waiting to see him just as there are right now to hear what he has to say about adult diapers.

Sure I guess there were a few things that didn’t resonate quite as well with the Aussie crowd as it would have with a bunch of Americans, but anyone who can call themselves a fan of Seinfeld would have shown up knowing to expect that because as far as generation X is concerned- he was our go-to educator for American culture for a very long time. We know that sometimes US comedians are going to talk about shit that we don’t quite get, but the beautiful thing with Jerry is that once it’s out there, it’s everybody’s joke now and that’s exactly what happened the other night. The crowd showed up wanting to laugh and so they did- uproariously for an hour and ten minutes straight.

In fact if there was any issue with his act, it was the fact that he was too funny- too relevant and too damn slick. We all showed up with this excitement of finally seeing him again, of getting him to throw another scrap of amusement our way after waiting for so long, but once it was over and we were inching our way out (and I was wiping tears off from under my cheeks as I am right now) you could feel the reluctance to leave in the air. It was as long as any stand up act is, but devesatatingly short. There had been so many new wonderful jokes- but not nearly enough to hit the spot now that we’d remember what it was like to listen to him ramble on.

In fact, it sort of felt like having one cigarette after years of going cold turkey, and now I’m craving something that I just cannot get enough of. When Seinfeld was wrapping up, it was easy to come to terms with it because by that point, he’d offered his commentary on basically every aspect of the modern world and new voices were popping up everywhere- voices that sounded fresher and more inventive and might just have something to say that he couldn’t or didn’t want to say.

But that was before the internet took over the world, before Netflix, before Instagram and before, well, everything that pertains to our daily lives now. Seinfeld was about a bunch of middle-aged singles living in a crazy city, but Jerry’s a married man and father now doing the adulting thing (like me) and I’m desperate to know everything that he has to say on all of the above now that he has so much more material. I want him back on my screen, five times a week, saying the stuff that no one else has the balls to say or the intellect to articulate. I want to see whole episodes about political correctness, Trump, North Korea and text messaging. I want to know what he think about  putting kids through school, keeping a marriage interesting after an extended period of time, Tinder and equal rights for gays.

Jerry Seinfeld offered up a lot of insight into how his mind works nowadays, but his mind works so beautifully and quickly (and still without cussing) that I don’t think there’s ever going to be enough that he can say or do that will make people okay with the fact that he doesn’t feel like doing it as much anymore, and so as he disappeared behind that curtain, I began to weep just like I did when Time Of Your Life rolled on the Seinfeld Chronicles.

Strange how a show about nothing can be everything.

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