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The Top 10 Must-See Events at the Melbourne Fringe Festival

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by Fiona Anderson (subscribe)
A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
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The Best of the Best at the Fringe
It's nearly here! The huge entertainment event that is the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2014 starts on 17th September 2014. Featuring more than 400 events, involving more than 5000 artists, over 19 days, this is a mega festival that has something for everyone. There's comedy, dance, burlesque, circus; there's even a performer carrying out his own autopsy on stage! Well, that is if you can believe the show's publicity, and I'd have to say I'm a little dubious.

SOMA - one of my top 10 picks

So how do you choose from the wealth of events on offer at this amazing festival? I have pored over the program and selected my top 10 picks and present them to you below, not in any particular order.

Please check the program for session dates/times. Also, note there are generally concession/group ticket prices, but I have quoted the adult price in this article.

1. Carnival of Rustic Dreams

Billed as 'circus and magic meeting in a fantasy world', this show boasts Australia's leading female magician and mentalist, Cath Jamison, who teams up with two of Melbourne's top circus and variety entertainers, Ivan Smith and his Street Tap dancing, juggling and ragamuffin humour, and the eccentric acrobat, hula hoopist, comedienne, Cleo Cutcher. This show will take you into a world of magic, circus, whimsy and fantasy.

Carnival of Rustic Dreams is playing at Gasworks, the Bally, Albert Park. The show runs for 60 minutes and tickets are $25.

2. Hold Close

Another circus act, Hold Close is contemporary circus that explores the simple and bittersweet love story between water and fire; two primal and opposing elements. The show gains its inspiration from Ingrid Tan's graphic novel of the same name. Hold Close is described as a sensory feast that merges powerful storytelling with aerial circus, dance and physical theatre.

Hold Close is playing at Gasworks, the Big Theatre, Albert Park. It's a 50 minute show, and tickets are $25.

3. A Death by Chocolate

Attention all you chocoholics out there, this is the show for you! Comedian Josh Cake asked himself, 'What would be the best show ever?'. His reply, 'A show in which you're given cake and chocolate.' So Josh will give his audience 'cake, chocolate, money, songs, stories, puns and more'. Could just be bribery, but why not go along and find out?

Catch your chocolate fix at the Mechanics Institute in Sydney Road, Brunswick. The show runs for 105 minutes, and tickets are $22.

4. Come Heckle Hockey

Annoyed by the actions (or inaction) of politicians? Want a chance to tell them about it? Then take it out on comedian Joshua Ladgrove, who will be adopting the persona of Federal Treasurer, Joe Hockey. Come Heckle Hockey is described as the perfect show for: members of the Federal Opposition; anyone not earning $500,000 or more; Malcolm Turnbull; those not allowed in the Q&A audience; students; not students. Expect some irreverent and disrespectful banter from the man who brought you Come Heckle Christ.

Come Heckle Hockey is a 60 minute show, and tickets are $22. The venue is the Fringe Hub in North Melbourne.

5. Dr Professor Neal Portenza Performs his own Autopsy on Stage

It sounds so weird you just have to go and see it! As the publicity for the show says - 'for one night only. (Obviously.)' Except that, fortunately for those keen to see Neal Portenza's strange sounding show, it is actually on for multiple nights. The show is described as a 'glorious, chaotic, deceptively clever hour of inspired stupidity. Insane. Inexplicable. Inimitable.' Goodness only knows what we'll get!

Melbourne Fringe Festival 2014
A live autopsy on stage. Maybe.

Neal Portenza's show is playing at the Tuxedo Cat, in Wills Street, Melbourne. It's a 60 minute show and tickets cost $20.

6. Glamping With Bobby and the Pins

I very much enjoyed Glamping With Bobby and the Pins when I saw the show earlier this year at the Butterfly Club. Expect good, clean, daggy humour with some delightful a cappella singing.

Glamping offers gentle, daggy humour

You'll find Glamping at the Fringe Hub. It's a 60 minute show and tickets are $25.

7. Très Miserables

Hot on the heels of the success of Cameron Mackintosh's Les Miserables in Melbourne, we have the familiar story being told by three comics, playing 20 different characters, through hilarious songs and sketches.

See Très Miserables at the Fringe Hub. It's a 60 minute show and tickets are $24.

Tres Mis
Three comics play 20 characters in this spoof of Les Mis


SOMA is a solo contemporary dance work by Amy Macpherson. Influenced by contortion technique and training, SOMA is a journey from the beginning of movement impulse to the extremity of the performer's physicality.

SOMA is a 30 minute show and tickets are $18. See it at the Fringe Hub.

9. Tuxedo Cat Mystery Show

Go to a venue and see - who knows what? As the publicity says, 'challenge yourself to see the unknown! Be amazed by your own daring! This show could be anyone or anything. Every show is different.'

It sounds intriguing. Make sure you put it on your list! See this show at the Tuxedo Cat, Wills Street, Melbourne. The show runs for 60 minutes and tickets are $15.

10. Superhero Training Academy

Don't forget the kids! The Superhero Training Academy is now recruiting kids aged 5-8 for a world in which theatre meets workshop meets magic, told in rap and rhyming slang. Join a team of expert theatre-makers as they activate imaginations in order to save the world.

The venue is Luna Park. Prior bookings are essential, and the cost of this 90 minute session is $26.

And finally, if you're on a tight budget and can't afford these ticket prices, don't despair! There are a lot of free events at the Festival as well.
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Why? Fun and entertainment in all shapes and sizes.
When: Various times between 17th September and 5th October
Phone: (03) 9660 9600
Where: Various locations, check the festival program for venue details.
Cost: Adult ticket prices vary but are around $25.
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