ADULT ONLY MAGIC SHOW MLBOURN NEW website review: Sam Bell
From the beginning, magic has always been a balancing act between entertainment and awe. With magicians doing everything they can to keep their audiences’ attention, while misdirecting their focus. It is convenient then, that the adults only magic shows has two headliners, with executive producer Sam Hume and Creative director Justin Williams splitting the responsibilities in order to divide and conquer. The pairs flagship show strives to keep the traditional elements of the classic magic show, with bombastic presentation and surprising demonstrations of skill and the seemingly impossible. Fortunately for fans of the genre, the showmen have steered away from the classic and predictable tropes, choosing to present their time-honoured tricks in a new way. Clearly aimed at a different demographic, the adults only show lives up to its name. Use of the available bar is recommended in the first minute, and the shows content leans into overtly sexual tones and themes.
What seems on paper to be an unnecessarily risky and edgy path is expertly smoothed over by the pairs comedic style and undeniable chemistry. Jokes that would normally tow the line are given a free pass due to their incredibly flippant delivery and the clear sense that nothing said or done is meant to be taken seriously. The balance between magic and comedy in this show is sometimes skewed and can be slightly jarring, but works out for the best. The process of undercutting most of their illusions with humour takes away the impact of the best material, but greatly reduces the dissociation caused by their less polished sections. The two have been working together for years, and it shows. While their script may be slightly ham fisted at times, it was clearly written by the two of them and allows them to bounce their energy of one another for the crowd’s benefit.
Likewise, the magic on display is not some never before seen wonder, but rather a showcase of crowd favourites, given a new skin and presented in a new light. Fans of escape magic for example will likely have seen the techniques and situations before, normally with some ticking clock or impending doom. Seeing the same tricks used in order to prevent and facilitate the magician’s nudity is a creative twist that few if any have come across. In the same vein, mentalism is an art that many are familiar with nowadays, but seeing it used to extract an audience members favourite sex position is a sight as rare as it is entertaining.
In the end, The Adult Magic show is exactly what is says on the tin. It’s the classic magic show we all grew up with, adapted for an adult audience. Its uniqueness comes from its premise and Its entertainment comes from comedy and skill. It’s not going to change your life and it’s unlikely to change up the magic scene, but in these dark times, when all hope seems lost and we are all starting to forget why we used to go out in the first place; The Adult Magic Show may be exactly what we need.
NGV PRESENTING: MELBOURNE WINTER MASTERPIECES 2021 NEW website photography: Erkin Kalayci review: Katherine Kelly
French Impressionism from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston – 4th June to 3 October 2021
This year the NGV Winter Masterpieces program showcases French Impressionism, a collection of more than 100 works of French Impressionists from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA). The exhibition displays works never seen before here in Australia. According to curator Miranda Wallace these selected works previously belonged to wealthy American art enthusiasts prior to bequeathing them to the MFA around the turn of the 20th Century. By the 1920s the MFA was steadily building up a considerable collection of French Impressionistic works. These paintings and some prints represent the love of French impressionism that Americans had towards the end of the 19th century. They signified a close bond between America and France through their shared ideals of Liberty, egality and fraternity.
This exhibition opened on 25 June three weeks after its scheduled opening due to reasons that we are all aware of. Ted Gott, Meg Slater, and Miranda Wallace from the NGV curatorial team were excellent guides, bringing the works to life by giving wonderful presentations.
Strains of piano pieces by Debussy and Satie emanate discreetly into the ten thematic spaces where these works are shown; works which span from the Barbizon School in 1870s Paris to the turn of the 20th century. Senior curator Ted Gott explained that the exhibition is bookended and sprinkled with Claude Monet’s works to accentuate his influence on the movement. Eugene Boudin from the Barbizon school was the one responsible for encouraging Monet to cease creating caricatures and to paint “en plein” (outdoors). Boudin said to the young Monet, “I’m going to paint the sea and the sky. Watch what I’m doing and see if you can do it too”. From that time on Monet never looked back and became one of the most celebrated artists of this genre. Monet wrote, “I owe everything to Eugene Louis Boudin. Without this man there would be no Claude Monet”. After 140 years, his works still appear fresh - as though they were recently painted. There are depictions of beautiful rural landscapes such as hosts of red poppies in green fields, frozen haystacks, and waterlilies in his Giverny garden. The coastal scenes in Normandy and the pink hues off Antibes on the South coast are exquisite. Having declared that Venice “was too beautiful to paint”, his late afternoon scene made Venice even more beautiful to my eyes.
Even though this exhibition portrays Monet’s huge influence on the movement, there were, of course, other impressionists. Vincent Van Gogh for one comes to mind. His successful art dealer brother Theo encouraged him to leave The Netherlands where he was creating dreary works and come to France to get some colour in his work. From about 1885, Vincent began combining the use of colour and Japanese print techniques to create his own iconic style. His 1890 “House of Anvers” work depicts a window where a very keen eye can spot of small section of blank canvass. It is so cleverly worked into the scene.
Ted Gott explained that the impressionists were a family. They had their squabbles, celebrations of their achievements, and they supported each other along on their impressionistic journeys. They experimented with light, the elements, and their attempts to catch those fleeting cloud and sea movements.
I could elaborate further about other artists such as Pissarro - “the grandfather of the movement”, Renoir, Gaugin, and many others but my review of this wonderful exhibition may turn into a thesis!!
A big thanks to the NGV curators - and to Ted Gott for his valuable anecdotes about the French impressionists.
ZELMAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CONCERT NEW Romantic Passions website review by Sam Bell
February may be the month of Valentine, but the Zelman symphony Orchestra is here to remind us that Romantic Passions are always present, relatable and unchanging. Proving that the love and energy Beethoven and Brahms put into their work, so long ago is still just as relevant and moving today as it has ever been. The composers may be long dead, but as Rick Prakhoff stood between his rapt audience and the many talents of his orchestra, there wasn’t a doubt to be found, their work lived on and it wouldn’t be long before he brought tears to the eyes of all his listeners. For the uninitiated, starting a show with Beethoven’s Egmont Overture is like starting your day with a quadruple shot of espresso. It’ll certainly get the job done, but to justify it, you’ve got to have an awful lot of on your to-do-list. Written as incidental music for a play commiserating the life and death of a Dutch hero and his battle for civil liberty, the piece is powerful and moving. It shifts from extreme darkness to brief moments of levity and light, before grounding itself again. The musical equivalent of a battle cry and death rattle, it is of little wonder that it became the unofficial anthem of the 1956 Hungarian revolution.
But violent passion and unshakable resolve do not a romance make, thus Markiyan Melnychenko and Noella Yan make their appearance. To do Brahms Double Concerto justice is no small ask. The German composers final orchestral work requires not just excellence, but seamless coordination and a real sense of chemistry between its dual soloists. One of the composers most ambitious concertos, it has a rare complexity and a real tension running throughout. Written to help mend a broken relationship after strife, its place following the Egmont Overture makes the shows narrative clear. Combined with how Melnychenko’s playful violin and seemingly irreverent take on the piece, contrasts perfectly with Yan’s deeply serious and slightly melancholic cello; the piece truly comes alive. That the pair were both last minute stand in, for the stand ins, (Covid was not kind to this performance) is nothing short of shocking. They show a wonderful sense of harmony in how they play off each other and fill the gaps in the others performance. Hopefully the two are able to work together again soon, as they have well and truly earned their bouquets.
Following reconciliation comes a return to the light. Few symphonies represent such a free and open passion as well as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8. A light hearted and cheerful number. No. 8 is as close to stand-up comedy as orchestras get. Loud and bright, the entire symphony functions as an extended scherzo. Packed with unexpected rhythms, twisted phrase structures and surprising keys, the symphony is flirtatious in its context. Showing the fun and games of a newly restored love. Amalgamating a wide variety of techniques and styles, it parallels most relationships creative periods and the insanity of love. That is ends with such huge movement and loud passion gives the entire performance and almost carnal reading. Hawthorn Arts Centre promised a night of Romantic Passions and the Zelman symphony Orchestra have delivered. A stunning performance by an incredibly talented team of artists in their prime. Romantic Passions - Beethoven and Brahms is recommended viewing for all music lovers and those and who wish to remember what love truly sounds like.
GABS FESTIVAL OF BEER MELBOURNE NEW website review by Sam Bell
Everything a beer lover needs. GABS craft beer festival has it all. No matter if you are a noobie beer drinker and want to learn the difference between an IPA and a stout, or if you are a hops aficionado looking to further explore the magic of infusions, GABS is the place to be. Starting with the Dan Murphy discovery deck, leading members though the many styles of beer and allowing participants to choose from a ridiculous number of brews (we’ll get the them later). Who doesn’t want a complimentary flavour tour through the winding and varied paths of hops brewing? Plus, for those who find themselves with a urge to learn more and to dig deeper into exactly what they are tasting, GABS Academy has you covered. With panels of experts, freely divulging their hard-won knowledge and advising guests on all manner of topics, from pallet deconstruction to food pairings. There is always more to learn, and GABS is where to learn it.
Not everyone want to know how the sausage gets made however. Some people know what they like and just want to be left alone to enjoy it. Fair enough. Why not sit back with a brew of choice and listen to some smooth jazz to accompany your smooth malt? The Ale Capones are there to flood the stage will sound and ensure your ears are having as much fun as your mouth. If that doesn’t float your boat then why not make the experience a bit more personal? GABS offers a silent disco to let you lose yourself in your own world. Just slap on some headphones and pretend you’re at home with a brew. Just make sure to watch out for that unconscious dance we all do when listening to great music. Even if it feels like you’re at home, you’re still dancing in a crowd with beer to aid your moves.
If dancing isn’t your thing, you can always put your body to some other use. GABS has a huge variety of party games and activities to play and challenge your friends with. Whether you are a beer pong champion, foosball legend, Jenga lord, or pinball wizard, GABS gives you what you need to show off your skills. For the truly Dexterous, the cornhole championship is always an option. With free practice rounds running through the day to let you brush up on your skills before you enter the competition and win yourself some prizes.
If you don’t win, don’t sweat it. You can always head to the merch stand and buy a prize. Bribe your friends with a beer and no one will ever know. Plus you’ll end up with some of the fun alcohol themed paraphernalia on offer, and that’s always a good thing. Let’s face it, you can always use a new hoodie. Just don’t spill your beer on it.
it would be a crime to waste such beers anyway (I told you we’d get back to them). With 112 new beers and ciders on offer, GABS has an offering for every pallet imaginable. Plus a few beyond imagination. With GABS offering the 60+ breweries present a chance to show off their skills, things can get downright weird. Whether you want to play it safe with a classic cider, or chase your rumball stout down with a lamb souvlaki beer, GABS has you covered. No one wants to drink on an empty stomach and the less adventurous of you, may prefer to eat your jalapeno taco, rather than drink it. Fear not, GABS also has more food than you possibly eat. From kebabs to pizza, fried chicken and greasy burgers. GABS knows their audience, if you have a food you always crave when you hit the town, it is almost certainly present.
So whether you want to learn more about beer, expand your taste, test your skill, or just gorge yourself on a myriad of delicious treats, both alcoholic and not, GABS is the place to be. Covid has finally let us out of our houses, but that’s no reason to not get on the beers.