The Dirty Cowboy


Variety is the spice of Fringe World life, and so here’s a quick three-pack of Fringey goodness that took me through a balmy Friday night in the Cultural Centre.

Macbeth (…ish) at Noodle Palace

Tempest Productions presents a condensed, super-condensed and a super-ultra-condensed version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in just under an hour. Showing at Noodle Palace’s Hokkien House, which is basically a converted classroom of CIT, this is a follow up of Tempest’s 2014 Fringe entry, 15-Minute Hamlet by Tom Stoppard. Abridged in a similar spirit by director/actress Susie Conte, audiences are first treated to a fairly straight abridged version with just a few hints of the shows coming tongue-in-cheek approach. Perhaps this initial semi-serious version could have played even more for laughs, instead of delicately dipping its toe in; this would have driven the 2nd and 3rd abridged versions that followed well into an even more madcap frenzy. Version 2 and 3 have plenty of gags that hit the mark, but the limits of the small platform stage slowed down the pace in spots; on a more traditional stage with wings, the pace could have really flown and given the show the momentum it deserved. This was a light bite-sized portion of Shakespeare to start off the night.

The Dirty Cowboy at The Blue Room

A man, a bottle of whiskey, a guitar, and a memory of love – these are the basic elements of Tim Solly’s solo music-based show, The Dirty Cowboy. Teeming with bitter heartache and broken dreams of happiness in a woman’s arms, Solly tells the story of a lonely sheriff who comes to a gold rush town and steals away the wife of a prospector. Solly has plenty of charisma and a deep, expressive voice full of gravitas and a smokey timbre that holds the audience in its grasp. It’s a moody, stripped-back piece, but Solly’s performance is compelling, and his presence fills the room.

Joe Lui’s lighting design is warm and gives the piece a sepia tone, as if we’re looking back at a dusty photograph of decades past. India Mehta’s set design is equally simple, nothing extra but nothing lacking. Sally Richardson and Mark Storen should be credited for continuing this economy of storytelling throughout each element, even down to Solly’s movement and gestures, which are specific and meaningful. This weighty piece might fall slightly outside of your typical frivolous Fringe fare, but its dark heart beats with great passion.

Yana Alana at De Parel Spiegeltent

She is splendid. She is blue. She is Yana Alana and she bares it all. Naked except for a thin layer of blue body paint, she parades proudly around the Spiegeltent serenading the rapt audience with semi-operatic vocal stylings and keeping them in stitches with raunchy jokes and a touch of deadly accurate modern psychology. She plays the trumpet, has a book of self-help tips called Go Fuck Yourself, she pulls things from places where the sun doesn’t shine, and she is utterly endearing through it all. Her long-suffering accompanist is completely indifferent to Yana Alana’s shenanigans, silently tinkering away at the keyboard, while the Big Blue Belter works the crowd. Yana Alana has another assistant/stagehand/stage manager that runs around the tent supplying the star and the audience with props, making sure everything runs smoothly. Yana Alana’s big booty, big voice, big hair and big love for performance is a sapphire-coloured gem of a show, and it’s one of those quintessentially Fringe-y shows that make this festival great.


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