Where: Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute
When: Two shows remaining — 7 March and 14 March
This year is the 60th anniversary of the Adelaide Fringe and there’s a lot to celebrate, but something particularly exciting is that we finally have our first First Nations Hub. Located at Tandanya, the only National Aboriginal Cultural Centre in the country, we have a full program of theatre, comedy, dance, cabaret, and must-see experience Yabarra.
The absolutely formidable Fez Faanana hosts Black List Cabaret here — a weekly celebration of the First Nations talent taking place across the Adelaide Fringe. The line up is announced every week — so there’s always going to be something different — but you can expect a mix of cabaret, comedy, dance, circus, and burlesque. And oh my god, it is such a treat.
Starting off with a welcome to country by Karl ‘Winda’ Telfer. Karl speaks and plays the yidaki. He says that Tandanya is so excited to be hosting the First Nations Hub, and reminds us that this has been a big fight for people for a long time. Karl’s daughters, members of his dance group Yellaka, also dance. They emanate power and passion. In spite of everything, culture prevails.
The show kicks off with Aborigi-LOL comedians Matt Ford and Dane Simpson. These two sets are great, with Matt taking inspiration from his life and interactions with people (and magpies) and Dane taking the piss out of his very funny dad.
We were treated to the Battersea Arts Centre’s Beatbox Academy and some songs from the voices behind the much-hyped Frankenstein, or How to Make a Monster. This was phenomenal. I have heard so much hype about this but watching the group sing in the flesh was another matter altogether.
Fez explains that he has recently made friends with Leilani Gonzalez, who posts videos on Instagram playing her ukelele. This is her first time on the stage solo with the uke, and she plays a few very lovely songs.
Blaine Petrovia is a phenomenal pole dancer. He has rushed straight over from Blunderland, his show at Gluttony, and does things I wouldn’t have thought possible. At one point he holds his hold body up with his neck and a foot. Amazing.
And finally, we wrap up with Circolombia. With two female ringmasters singing and hyping the audience, the energy is high to finish it up. The performers present a very original take on circus and physical theatre, flipping and balancing with exact accuracy.
Of course, I can’t not mention Fez. With an abundance of costume changes, warmth, and a great dance choreographed to a mix of songs, the show is held together by him. Fez has a knack of bringing community, making every member of the audience feel valued and welcome. It’s so nice to be in his company once more.
Black List Cabaret is a fantastic mix of what’s happening across the festival. It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to scout out what other shows look good. There are only two shows left of this one, get your tickets now!
4½ out of 5 stars
— Natalie Carfora