Adelaide Fringe 2023: 23 shows with French and francophone links to see

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Adelaide Fringe 2023 starts in less than 4 weeks! To help you with your planning, we’ve found all the shows with French and francophone links for you. You’ll find artists coming to Adelaide Fringe from France, performers with French circus school training, and shows featuring French songs, or about French people. Read on to find out more.

Adelaide Fringe 2023



Adelaide Fringe 2023 - Vertiges
Image: Anne-Laure Chemin

Vertiges by Farid Ayelem Rahmouni SEASON UNFORTUNATELY CANCELLED

FRENCH LINK: Farid Ayelem Rahmouni is from France and the show is being brought in partnership with the French Government.

A vertigo inducing, audience-led interactive experience from France’s finest aerial performer. Vertiges looks at the injustice of those living in the margins of society and turns the despair into a beautifully moving, world-class aerial performance, directed through an App which is controlled by all members of the audience.




FRENCH LINK: From France

The dark and retro-futuristic music of PERTURBATOR returns to Australia in 2023 including a first ever performance in Adelaide! Accompanied with new music and further reinventions, PERTUBATOR have signalled a drastic sonic movement and ushered fans into deeper unchartered territory.




FRENCH LINK: Les Commandos Percu are from France

Image: Veronique Balege

A spectacle of percussion, pyrotechnics and fireworks, launching Adelaide Fringe 2023.

Les Commandos Percu present a storm of sounds and fire that resonates deep, the silence before the storm. The slow muffled rolling of the drums rises from the depths becoming a deafening noise. A rain of metal fills the air, sheet lightning overwhelms the sky. Time is suspended, all is frozen.


Dressed up with metal, musicians move forward amongst a blinding light. Coloured bodies and layered pieces of metal form a moving shape with sharp angles forcing itself upon the audience. Powerful rhythms intersperse with silence creating a tension that will not fade.



Exhibition and sale of Mediaeval manuscripts

FRENCH LINK: Frenchman Dominique Schmidt presents this exhibition and sale

Dominique Schmidt presents a curated selling exhibition of exquisite mediaeval illuminated manuscripts on vellum, including leaves from Books of Hours, Gregorian Chants and Antiphonals, from the 13th century to the 19th century.





La Grande Folie


Adelaide Fringe 2023
Image: Leslie Liu

FRENCH LINK: The “Let Them Eat Cake” act

Australia’s Queen of Burlesque, Imogen Kelly, presents her most celebrated acts in a single, spectacular show! Interlaced with stories from her life as a world-famous show-pony Imogen proves that YES! Striptease can save the world!


Featuring her world-famous “Let Them Eat Cake”; the incredible “Great Barrier Reef” and “Flamingo Go!”- the act that saw Imogen crowned World Queen of Burlesque in Las Vegas.



A night to baguette

FRENCH LINK: Set in Paris, and with French chansons

A night to BaguetteOccupied Paris, 1941. Cabaret artiste Lulu Ledoux finds herself murdered just before she was to perform The Greatest French Song Ever Written. Refusing to let her death stop the show, Lulu re-enacts her murder from 3 perspectives and discovers her killer’s identity – and all in less than an hour.


With real and imagined French chansons and a surprise finish, ‘A Night to Baguette’ is an absurdist cabaret/whodunnit tragi-comedy about passion, performance, collective grief – and bread.


Carmen: the cabaret

Read our interview with Eliane Morel about Carmen the cabaret here

FRENCH LINK: Inspired by, and about, French opera Carmen

If Carmen is a ‘femme fatale’, why does she end up dying? If Carmen inhabited your soul, how would it feel? Using all the hit tunes from Carmen, award-winning cabaret team Eliane Morel (singer) and Daryl Wallis (accompanist), directed by international opera legend Ghillian Sullivan, comically interrogate the opera’s story and music, and explore how performing Carmen affects those who dare to take on the role…


A world premiere at Adelaide Fringe 2023, Carmen the Cabaret will have you laughing, crying, singing along and wondering how you knew all the tunes from an opera you’ve never seen.


Chansons: Piaf, Brel & Me – A musical cabaret about France


FRENCH LINK: A cabaret about France

German multi award-winning singer & musical theatre actress Stefanie Rummel brings her musical cabaret to Australia with Chansons, a musical cabaret journey through life. ‘Soul-touching’ stories performed in ‘brilliant showmanship’ about life and passion, from Ne me quitte pas (Brel) to Milord (Piaf). Reflect on life the French way.


Spoken in English, and sung in French, English this show makes you travel beyond borders. Accompanied by pianists such as Bogdan Pieleanu, Bob Egan, Tom Schlueter. Chansons inspires our own lives by looking at other cultures.


Love on the left bank 


FRENCH LINK: A cabaret about French woman Juliette Gréco

Celebrated Adelaide actress and singer Louise Blackwell brings to life the inspiring story of French singer Juliette Gréco. It is a musical celebration of love, life and liberty as it occurred in the Left Bank of Paris at the time of its liberation from Nazi German occupation. Backed by a superb 6-piece band led by musical director Mark Ferguson, Louise performs songs which evoke the joy and revelry of liberation as it occurred in the legendary underground clubs of Saint Germain des Prés, the bohemian district where Juliette found refuge during the war.


Philosophers, writers and artists gathered round Juliette as she made her debuts in cabaret nights that presented a myriad of different performers, poets and musical acts, and she is still known as the muse of Saint Germain des Prés.


Under the Paris Sky


FRENCH LINK: A cabaret of French-language songs

A glittering Cabaret of beloved old and new French-language songs, interwoven hilarity with a dash of philosophy. You will be swept away by the beauty of the music; Simon Walters’ fabulous piano and Georgia’s incredible voice and stage presence. Comedic characters, Cecile & Julienne Carotte, provide hilarious highlights along the emotional journey.


Come ‘Under the Paris Sky’, beneath the great dome of the Ayer’s House Ballroom with its chandeliers. A magical experience awaits…and you don’t even need to speak French!


A night at the musicals 3: Summer Lovin’ Tour 


FRENCH LINK: Le Gateau Chocolat was raised in Nigeria

‘The French and Saunders of Drag’ Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo are finally BACK and they’re bringing a brand new show. Dragging you through all of their favourite musicals in a raucous night of ballsy ballads, delightful duets and slaughtered showtune singalong fun.


With bigger wigs, crazier costumes, more questionable choreography, and a mountain of laughs, this is one show you’ll be dragging your friends along to see again and again.


Bourgeois & Maurice

FRENCH LINK: A French-inspired name

Cult cabaret superstars Bourgeois & Maurice return to Adelaide with a spectacular new show that puts the FUN back into our fundamentally pointless existence!!!


Packed with whip-smart original songs, jaw-dropping outfits and hilariously savage wit, ‘Pleasure Seekers’ is a gloriously unhinged yet bizarrely life-affirming homage to hedonism in all its filthy, fabulous glory.



Club d’Amour

FRENCH LINK: Set in a back-alley French brothel set deep in the red-light district of Paris

Adelaide Fringe 2023Tone & Cheek welcomes you to Club D’amour; a back-alley French brothel set deep in the red-light district of Paris, where guests are treated to a night of fiery fun through a flirtatious fusion of dance, burlesque, circus, and live music.


Think Moulin Rouge combined with 50 Shades of Grey and a dash of Rocky Horror, Club D’amour chains together Australia’s sexiest talent and explores a story of forbidden love. The show will deliver jaw locking gags, filthy fun, and debauchery in a hilariously energetic showcase of the world’s oldest profession.



FRENCH LINK: Poster girl (the one in the red dress), Michaela Burger will sing in French

Image:: Brig Bree Photos

All the spectacle of a circus with a deliciously deviant, adults-only twist – ROUGE is a mind-bending blend of death-defying acrobatics, grandiose cabaret and deeply twisted burlesque. A titillating celebration of astonishing proportions that’s surprising, subversive and supremely sexy.


Rouge returns with acts you’ve loved alongside brand-new performances that promise to shock, tease and delight the senses. This is Australian circus cabaret at its climax.



Talk dirty, stay classy


FRENCH LINK: A show dedicated to swearing in French led by Franco-Australian Arnaud Benassy

Have you ever wanted to learn how to say ‘go f**k yourself’ in French?


After sold out shows and five-star reviews, Talk Dirty, Stay Classy with the irrepressible Arnaud Benassy is back at a new venue, Club de Petanque d’Adelaide (full bar available)! Join them for a night of laughter as you learn ALL (well, most) of your favourite swear words in French. Shows are loud, rude, and hilariously fun.



Les fleurs du mal (the flowers of evil) based on the poetry of Baudelaire

FRENCH LINK: Inspired by the poetry of French poet Baudelaire

A confession of hopes, dreams, failures and sins, The Flowers of Evil attempts to extract beauty from the malignant.  One must evoke the artificial and paradoxical aspects of life.  Beauty can evolve on its own, irrespective of nature and fuelled by sin. The ideal transcends over the harsh reality where all senses are united in ecstasy.




Laissez les bons temps rouler

FRENCH LINK: singer Jean-Marc Spiler is Franco-Australian and the band perform French music

Adelaide based Les Flâneurs Volants will turn the spotlight on the diversity of upbeat styles and rhythms of music from the French speaking world from the iconic French sounds of the 60s to the R&B influenced groove to the Creole beats of far-off lands.




2 violins, 8 strings: Classical Music Gems

FRENCH LINK: Bériot’s ‘Duos Concertante’ will be performed

Adelaide Virtuosi Trio is comprised of musicians from Slovakia. In this performance, there is a focus on Romantic, in the musical meaning (i.e. 19th century music). Expect to see this trio perform Dvořák’s ‘Miniatures’, French extravagant and colourful violin duets as Bériot’s ‘Duos Concertante’, as well as a world-premiere instrumentation of Zeljenka’s ‘Musica Slovaca’, Skoryk’s ‘Melody’ from a famous movie, or Kats-Chernin’s Tango in Aussie style.



The White Mouse


FRENCH LINK: About Australian French Resistance leader Dame Nancy Wake

In France’s darkest hour in World War II, it was an Australian woman who helped turn the tide against the Germans. This is the story of Dame Nancy Wake, fighter, lover and a force of nature, set during her time as a leader of the French Resistance.  Emily-Jo Davidson returns as Nancy in this re-make of the 2020 Fringe hit that sold out, twice over.

Another brilliant historical expose by Peter Maddern of an extraordinary Australian drawing deep on their reserves of courage and sense of duty to prevail against relentless foes.




Foible Boible

FRENCH LINK: Oliver Cowen trained at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier

Would a shark look better wearing skinny jeans or cargo shorts? Do french cats say “meow-oui” or “moi-eow”? Would you ask Barney the Dinosaur to help you bury a body? What’s the best way to ‘Yeet, Pray, Love’?


Who knows! You’ll find the answers to none of these questions and more in this very serious comedy show of puns, props, sketches, one-liners, funny songs and one extremely foibled boible. We tried to get Dakota Fanning for the show, but she was looking at a horse, so instead we’ve got Oliver; a bread bowl of a man who will probably tell some funny jokes, and maybe even have a theatre-based breakdown.


Go Sports

FRENCH LINK: Kyle Walmsley studied at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier

A man.

A treadmill.

An entire unproblematic history of Australian sporting culture.

Sports is COOL! Matty Johns, Israel Folau, Wayne Carey: Heroes. It’s the BEST part about Australia, and there’s nothing problematic about it. This is a marathon of comedy and sports bullying to the stage. There will be blood (fake), sweat (real), and tears (who knows).



FRENCH LINK: Jeromaia Detto studied at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier

Jeromaia Detto presents another journey of absurdity into a collection of wild and wonderful characters and concepts, that will make you laugh, cry, and ponder why?!


This show delves into the mushy brain of a man who once believed he could run faster in little athletics by ‘swimming’ through the air. He came last every time.



FRENCH LINK: This international theatre troupe, The Latebloomers, formed after studying together at Lecoq.

Scotlaaand! Come along for a wild ride with fishing, hunting, whisky, shortbread, rhythm, folk songs and the spirit of Scotland! A hilarious, award-winning physical comedy.



WHAT: Adelaide Fringe 2023, the second largest Fringe festival in the world!

WHERE: various locations in Adelaide and South Australia

WHEN: 17 February – 19 March

HOW: Purchase your tickets to the events above via the links given or see the whole program at

HOW MUCH: Ticket prices vary depending on the event


Which shows are you going to see at Adelaide Fringe 2023?         

For events with French and Francophone links happening this month, check out our What’s on in January article



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“Palmyra” makes its Australian debut at Adelaide Festival

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas are the directors and stars of the play “Palmyra” which is performing exclusively at Adelaide Festival in 2019. We spoke to Bertrand Lesca about “Palmyra”.


Palmyra _(c) Alex Brenner no usage without credit BE Fest 17 - Nasi Voutsas & Bertrand Lesca.jpg


I wanted to talk to you about your show Palmyra and your background. Starting with you, before creating Palmyra, what have you done?

Hmm, what have I done? I’ve done theatre for a long time and then I went to England to study over there. I studied a theatre course.


Apart from that, we did projects, we studied plays. It’s there that I started to put on my first play. Afterwards, I wanted to study more. I did a Masters in directing and writing at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. And there, I wanted to work with other directors to learn about their ways of working. I met quite a few people and I was lucky to work with Peter Brook. There, it was my first tour and my first professional experience and it allowed me to know a little about what a big tour is all about as Assistant Director.


Which show was that for?

“Une flute enchantée », an adaptation of Mozart’s « La flute enchantée ». Afterwards, I put my Masters on standby. Upon returning, I got another job with a director, Declan Donnellan and we did a project together. It was “Ubu Roi » a French co-production.


I know it ! When I was at university, the French club put that play on.

Yes, it’s quite « “à la mode” The setting he had was great. It took place in a Parisian apartment which was really great.


So that was my second experience as an Assistant [Director]. And then, I left with a company that I started called Fell Swoop Theatre. After a few years, I met Nasi in Edinburgh. We were both putting on shows. And we started talking and thought it would be good to do something together. We met up again at the beginning of semester. We started to work on Eurohouse which was the first show that we did together. We left on tour to Greece and then created Palmyra which is the show we are bringing to Adelaide. And now, we are already working on our third show together.


In London?

Yes, still in London. We created a new piece which is the last of the trilogy. It’s a trilogy and “One” is the last play of that trilogy.


One like the number in English?

Yes, that’s right. We are also creating our fourth show now.


Wow! So you studied theatre in England. Why did you go to England to study? Or were you already there?

No, in fact, it was really just out of curiosity. I wanted to leave home, I wanted to discover… So I looked into universities in England. There were a few Anglophones going to England. And that gave me the desire to do it. I had a look at Warwick University and their programs were interesting. And for my family, it was reassuring that it was a serious course. So I then asked my parents if I could do that.


How old were you at the time?

I was 18 years old.


Ah so you had just finished high school when you left.

I don’t know if you know it but the theatre schools are very, very difficult to get into. There are many years of preparation required. And I didn’t want that. So I tried another route instead of tying myself down doing exams. I preferred to throw myself in, to take another route and put on shows instead of following the professional theatre route.


I had read that you and Nasi were clowns but you haven’t studied any traditional circus?

No. In fact that’s how they define us. It’s true that in the beginning we weren’t sure. But it is true that it does appear to be an accurate definition of our work. But we are not traditional clowns. On stage, we are versions of ourselves, so quite normal.


But there is a dynamic between us which is very much based on – there is an oppressor and an oppressed. To use the classic term, there’s the clown Auguste – the white clown I think. So it’s always me who is oppressing Nasi. But it’s a dynamic which is quite interesting in relation to politics that we explore and what we want to say. It’s quite a simple way of representing conflicts – political conflicts.


For example, in Palmyra, there is military intervention. It’s quite – the fact that there is a conflict between two people who represent the two opposing sides, it simplifies things and makes the show easier for the audience.


I read that you have porcelain plates that you smash on stage and I asked myself whether there is a link we are supposed to make between the destruction of the plates and the destruction of the city of Palmyra or whether it is just a name of the play and there is no politics involved.

Of course the plates are a symbol of destruction. We really tried to find a way that we could bring destruction on stage. And in fact, the thing is that afterwards we had a problem because plates are not precious enough. For the spectators, the plates don’t mean anything to them. In fact, for us in Palmyra, the plates are the starting point but it’s more generally about destruction, revenge, violence and problems that we have with the Middle Eastern conflicts and how they are perceived abroad – from Europe. The plate is the starting point but it has become a more general exploration. And then we are also quite critical of the way in which the media and people in Europe are affronted by the destruction of Aleppo. The destruction of an ancient site struck a chord with people and we ask why the destruction of Palmyra had so much media coverage and people were offended. We ask ourselves a lot of questions about that.


And why did you choose Palmyra as your subject?

In fact, we had just finished working together and someone who had come to see the show was talking to us about the destruction and pillaging and about the way… it’s always a subject in Greece and England. We said to each other “there’s something in that”. It’s all very poetic. And that led us towards the conqueror, Alexander the Great, who had all of these projects and people who cut heads off of statues. And then it took us slowly towards Palmyra. We saw the image of the museum in Mosul. People had destroyed a number of sculptures and were filmed doing it. And it marked us because and shocked us a lot and led us to ask why it marked us so much. And then we created the show that we created.


And you also said that Palmyra is the second play in a trilogy. Is it possible to understand the play without having seen its precedent?

Each play is independent but the plays correspond to each other. The thing that corresponds the most is that is both of us on stage and the dynamic is the same and there is a lot of public interaction. There are very few things on stage and it is still a political subject. And there you go, the idea, is that – each time we ask ourselves what happens for Bertrand and Nasi afterwards. Will Nasi get his revenge? That’s what created the next show.


And then the third show is about conciliation – is it possible to have a dialogue and a conversation after quite a violent conflict between two people? That led us towards political subjects that interest us. So it’s the third show and it’s about the rising of populism, the right and the left and then whether conciliation is possible. So the third show concludes with a dialogue and asks whether a dialogue is possible and whether those from two opposing political spectrums could really speak to each other.


Will it be your first time in Australia?

In fact, it was Neil from the Adelaide Festival who saw the show in a little room when we were touring it in England. He came to the South of England to see the show and sent us an email to say that he wanted us to come but we didn’t receive the email! There was someone who showed up at our lodge and told us he loved the show. In fact it was him and we didn’t know who it was! Afterwards we realised it was him. Rachel had seen the show in England at Edinburgh festival and liked it very much. And then we saw each other on a few other occasions…. and said they were going to do everything they could to bring the show to Adelaide.


Are you going to do a tour around Australia?

For the moment, it’s just Adelaide but the idea is to see how it goes and hopefully it will be the start of coming back for more dates in Australia next year.


You premiered the show Palmyra in Edinburgh, right?

Yes, that’s where it all started.


And how did that go?

It’s true that we were very worried because we hadn’t put on a lot of shows. We came back a year after putting on Eurohouse, the year before, which worked well. We were a little scared about our “comeback”, scared about our second album. So we went there, and everything went well, we were very happy. We had some wonderful reviews, the show was entered into the British Council Showcase; many people came to see the show and then it was programmed into their festival. Then we head to just before coming to Adelaide.


Why should people come to see the show?

There’s no obligation! I think that it is an approach to theatre and political theatre which is not at all conventional. For people who like something new, a surprise. Our theatre is very interactive with the audience. And the audience asks itself questions during the show, they ask what is happening and what their role is in the show. It created something very lively and the most important thing in theatre is the dialogue between the stage and the audience. For us, we do a lot in the show and we ask ourselves a lot of questions. I think that for people who like theatre, there is a living act, an act of dialogue. It’s a show which is beyond that. And then for people to ask themselves the same questions as us about their way of seeing the world. And then to go to the theatre and take time for reflection with other people and artistic propositions and to take time to think together.


Is it a serious play?

No. It’s also very funny. People expect it to be a serious play because of the title “Palmyra” but we use a lot of humour. We take people to the opposite of what they expect. Sometimes they laugh and then the laughs disappear and they are suddenly conflicted, and scared – we like this link between laughter and tragedy. There is something very funny. And afterwards, because it is a very important subject, people take distance from what they are seeing, which is not innocent. We speak about the ridicule of conflict. And it is important to be able to laugh because by laughing you get a little bit of distance from the subject.


It’s a rollercoaster of emotions? We are going to laugh, to be shocked, to reflect.

Exactly. I think that it is a good reason to be able to come along to ride on the rollercoaster of emotions.


You can see the show Palmyra at Adelaide Festival from 1 to 5 March. Tickets cost $49 but there are also reduced priced tickets for Friends of Adelaide Festival, concession card holders and the under 30s.


You can buy them here.