Mad March: where to get your final-week festivals fix

Want to make the most of the final week of the Mad March mayhem?  Here are some Adelaide Festival and Fringe shows to get fired up about, plus a selection of four and five-star performances you might have missed.

Mar 10, 2020, updated Mar 10, 2020
Compagnie Carabosse's Fire Gardens. Photo: Boris 

Compagnie Carabosse's Fire Gardens. Photo: Boris Abalain

Fire Gardens

This light and sound installation by French artistic collective Compagnie Carabosse will feature fire sculptures created from around 7000 hand-crafted giant candles. It’s nominated as a 2020 Adelaide Festival highlight by co-artistic director Neil Armfield, who says it “will absolutely transform the Botanic Gardens”. Fire Gardens is on nightly from Thursday through Sunday; many sessions have sold out but there are still some tickets available.

The Artist

The Artist is a masterpiece of clowning, mime and acrobatics and will surely be one of the family-friendly favourites of this year’s Adelaide Festival,” InDaily’s reviewer writes of this show, at AC Arts’ Main Theatre until Saturday. It sees New Zealand-born, Finland-based performer Thom Monckton portray a sweet yet clumsy painter in a comedic, all-ages show promising “loose-limbed moonwalks, acrobatics and fruit-inspired gibberish”.

Mahler 5 / Adès

A highlight for classical music lovers, this Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Festival concert at the Town Hall pairs contemporary composer Thomas Adès’ violin concerto Concentric Paths – commissioned for British soloist Anthony Marwood – with Mahler’s epic fifth symphony. “A symphony of planetary dimensions and a companion piece, written 100 years later, which shines like its incandescent moon…” says Neil Armfield. Nicholas Carter will conduct two performances of Mahler 5 / Adès at the Town Hall on Saturday and Sunday.

Enter Achilles

First presented at the Adelaide Festival 24 years ago, this hard-hitting physical theatre work based around “one night in a British pub with eight lads, a stacked jukebox and a skinful of lager” has been revisited by director Lloyd Newson in light of the #metoo movement and Brexit. Enter Achilles is showing at the Dunstan Playhouse from Friday through Sunday, and while it’s set in a UK pub, Festival co-director Rachael Healy says “it could just as easily be down the road in any Aussie city”.

Laurie Anderson

American multi-media artist Laurie Anderson is one of the headliners on the RCC program for this year’s Fringe, presenting two performances at Bonython Hall on Saturday and Sunday. All the Things I Lost in the Flood is a career retrospective that takes its name from Anderson’s recent book of essays exploring how language relates to image.

Jamie MacDowell & Tom Thum

Former Fringe music award winners Tom Thum and Jamie MacDowell are back for two shows only in the Garden of Unearthly Delights on Saturday and Sunday night. The beatbox performer and singer-guitarist are both successful artists in their own right, and together they create an astonishing sound that’s like listening to a big band –  expect a mix of original folk-pop songs, looping, sampling, virtuosic beat-boxing and “a little bit of nonsense”.

Steve Reich Music for 18 Musicians

Part of the RCC program, this one-off performance at Elder Hall on Friday evening will see four pianists, seven percussionists and four singers from Soundstream New Music take on composer Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. It’s hailed as the first performance in Adelaide of the work, which had its world premiere at the Town Hall in New York in 1976.

Sammy J – Symphony in J Minor

Comedian Sammy J is back in the Garden of Unearthly Delights for two shows only (Thursday and Friday) this Adelaide Fringe season, performing songs from his ARIA-nominated album Symphony in J Minor and promising to “sing, play, croon, belt, warble, purr, and chirp until you kindly ask him to stop”.


Created by experimental arts company APHIDS and being presented at the Art Gallery of SA this Wednesday through Friday as part of the 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Howl is described as “a no-holds barred performance at the intersection of parade, protest and procession”. It comes with a content warning, and celebrates maligned or misunderstood artworks – from Piss Christ to Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain; read more here.

Fringe shows our reviewers loved:

Blanc de Blanc Encore ★★★★ ½
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The Choir of Man ★★★★★
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Passengers ★★★★★
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Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster ★★★★★
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Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum With Expats ★★★★ ½
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Velvet Rewired  ★★★★★
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Charlie Caper: Magical ★★★★★
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Coma ★★★★★
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Gone Girls ★★★★ ½
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See more Adelaide Festival stories and reviews here and all our 2020 Adelaide Fringe reviews here.

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