Life the Show: going on their Limbo reputation

Reading Time: 3 minutes

There were big expectations for Life the show based on Strut & Fret Production House’s previous shows Limbo and Blanc de Blanc. Sadly, the show didn’t live up to those expectations.

Scaled life hero

Previous shows were full of circus and burlesque extravaganza whereas Life the Show seemed to be more so a story-telling, dancing show with a little bit of acrobatics thrown in.


As the name suggests, this is a show revolving around life. It starts with one of the main performers Goos Meeuwsen, international clowning royalty, doing a light jog on the spot while words about his daily routine “wake up, eat, go to work, masturbate, watch TV, go to sleep”. He then meets a lady, played by Brazilian born, of French ancestry, Helena Bittencourt, who has played with Cirque du Soleil. What ensues is the flirtation, seduction and eventual getting together and getting down to business between the pair.


Goos Meeuwsen amused the crowd as he discovered he could listen to his own body parts (heart, mind and genitalia). He walked around the front row of the audience popping his hands on various people’s heads and music would play. This was an amusing skit.


One of the absolute standouts of the show was Tim Kriegler, previously in La Clique. He stuns the crowd as he climbs up the inside of a plastic tube and performs jaw-dropping acrobatic feats and has the crowd gasping as he climbs to the top and allows himself to do a fast drop to the bottom of the tube.


Music is a key element in the show and as with other Strut & Fret Production House shows, there is a live band on stage. Fantine’s vocals rung in our head well after the show. She has a beautiful and powerful voice. Dressed in a silky slinky nightie and gown, she weaves her way around the stage. She is accompanied by Blaise Garcia of the Violent Femmes and Brooklyn’s drumming powerhouse Attis Clopton. As you would expect, most of the songs revolved around the theme of life. And the show has a great soundtrack.


The dancing talents of Hilton Denis (previously seen in LIMBO) and Rechelle Mansour (previously seen in Velvet) are not to be denied but to be honest seemed quite out of place with what we are used to for Strut & Fret Production House shows. We expected there to be a lot more of the acrobatic, circus tricks but sadly apart from Tim Kriegler already mentioned above and one aerial act, these were largely missing.


There was some symbolism in the show. The scene where Goos Meeuwsen lies on the ground and the rope hanging from the ceiling is pulled down on top of him by various members of the cast is no doubt representative of the struggles of life and being worn down.


Then there is that scene that has a lot of people talking. The one in which Helena Bittencourt is vacuuming, only to be interrupted by the sound of her baby crying. She pulls out her breast, pops the vacuum onto it and breastfeeds as Goos Meeuwsen provides her with cigarette and cocktail. This is perhaps a critique of the pressures put on women to do it all or meant to shock us with her drinking and smoking while breastfeeding.


Overall a good show but more in the realm of song and dance and storytelling rather than the acrobatic, fire-breathing circus we have come to expect from Strut & Fret Production House.




Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of Adelaide Fringe


Life the Show continues nightly, with the exception of Mondays, until the conclusion of Adelaide Fringe. Tickets cost $68 (or $58 for concession card holders) plus any booking fees and are available here.

For our full list of recommended shows, you can read our  article here.

Louise Blackwell takes you for A night in Paris at Adelaide Fringe

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Last Sunday evening, we went to see Louise Blackwell and her ensemble of 6 musicians for her show A night in Paris. St John’s Anglican Church was full, and the crowd attentive.

Photo: Cat McKenzie

Louise Blackwell & The French Set sing well-known French songs as well as lesser known French songs. Yes, you will hear songs by Piaf, but you will also hear from artists such as Greco, Charles Aznavour and Georges Brassens. And some Serge Gainsbourg, bien sûr! In A night in Paris, Louise Blackwell sang, among others, “Le Petit Commerce” by Boris Vlan, “Parlez-moi d’amour” written by Jean Lenoir, “Aux bois de mon cœur” by Brassens. Her version of “Ou sont passés mes pantoufles” by Marcel et son orchestre was very amusing. We laughed a lot and it was the perfect end to the show.


Louise is trained in jazz, having studied it for two years in Paris. She sung in the Parisian jazz bars, including L’Ogresse Théâtre des marionnettes, Sunside, Les Sept Lezards, Le Franc Pinot and Café Universel. She sings accompanied by her group The French Set, which is made up of 6 very talented musicians. Julian Ferraretto plays violin and is a reputed and very much in demand violinist. Mark Ferguson plays piano but is also so much more, also being a composer and arranger. Joshua Baldwin plays the drums. John Aué is on double bass. He is also a lecturer of bass and jazz in Adelaide.  Gary Isaacs is the guitarist and Alex Taylor is on brass.


Something that Louise does, which so many others who sing in foreign languages either forget or choose not to do is to explain a little about what each song is about. We cannot assume that the francophile audience is also French speaking. In particular, in A night in Paris, we loved her summary of Yves Montand’s “LaBicyclette” especially when her Australian side shone through (and we love her even more for that). It’s about “4 blokes with a crush on one girl”. It also shows just how down to Earth Louise i. She is refined but she also knows how to build rapport with her audience.


We are used to seeing Louise perform at Nexus Arts, so when we saw that she was going to do a show in a church, we were very interested to see how it would be different to her other shows. In these other shows, we are more used to cabaret seating. Here, being in rows, seated one behind another was a change.


Unfortunately, there were some sound issues. Sometimes when Louise spoke between songs it was very difficult to understand what she was saying. Her voice was being muffled. It’s sad because her explanations of the songs and of their singers are always interesting and sometimes amusing.


It’s rare these days to see a show with a full ensemble. It’s always a pleasure to see Louise Blackwell & The French Set. And A night in Paris was loved by all. Everyone in the church had their eyes firmly fixed on them. Louise Blackwell & The French Set won the Fringe Weekly Award for Music last year and I think it is highly possible that they will win it again this year.


I also wanted to express my condolences to Louise Blackwell and all of her family. Her brother Paul Blackwell, well-known in Australian theatre circles passed away on the morning of the show. We would have all understood if Louise had chosen to cancel the show given these circumstances. Her performance was even more impressive given these events.


Louise Blackwell & The French Set are a group you must see. Sometimes they play throughout the year and we strongly recommend that you purchase tickets. You won’t regret it!




Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of Adelaide Fringe


A night in Paris has three more performances at the Adelaide Fringe – this Tuesday and Wednesday 26 and 27 at Stirling Fringe and this Thursday 28 February at Nexus Arts, where we are used to seeing them perform. Unfortunately for you  though, these shows are already sold out. You will have to get your tickets early next time around.


However, you can see their other show at the Gilbert Street Hotel on 8 March. They will play twice that evening. There are still tickets available for their second show of the night at 9:30pm. Tickets cost $27.50 plus any booking fees. You can purchase your tickets here.


You can also read our article with 22 must-see shows at Adelaide Fringe here.