Adelaide boasts that its Fringe Festival is the second largest in the world (Edinburgh is first.) But more importantly it’s “The Biggest in the Southern Hemisphere.” Which is code for “Bigger than Sydney’s” and we landed in the middle of it.
There are festival venues along the Rundle Mall and in almost every theater in the city, but “action central” is in the parks to the east of Rundle Mall. There are temporary pavilions, booths, carnival rides, outdoor stages, circus tents, beer tents, and porta loos. During the day the place is kid oriented with circus acts, juggling, improv-theater, music and comedy that in the evening become considerably more adult. Some shows are free — some cost money. Barkers and touts try to draw in audiences through a combination of salesmanship and silliness. For friends who have been to Winnipeg it’s like a hundred Al Simmons have been unleashed on the city.
We went to one tent show called “Able Mabel.” Her shtick was doing a bad magic show very well. Everyone knew how she did most of the tricks and that was the joke. She picked a little girl, Lily, out of the audience, and told us she would make Lily disappear. She held up a hoop with a skirt and Lily got under it. She dropped the hoop a bit to show that Lily was still there, then she moved toward the back curtain and, with her head, motioned to Lily that she should scoot under the skirt and behind the curtain, all the time keeping up a funny patter. It took a while for Lily to catch on but finally she got it, Mabel dropped the hoop and Lily was gone (everyone gasp.) Then she held up the hoop again and Lily scooted out from behind the curtain hidden by the skirts. Mabel took some steps forward dropped the hoop and there was Lily. Everyone cheered, Lily beamed and took a bow. She had a big smile because she teamed up with Mabel and put one over on the grownups. I was charmed.
For me, though, was the flash mob. The ticket said “Meet at the Mall’s Balls.” DJ Guru Dudu and his assistant Karen handed out headphones. We heard music through the phones and Dudu gave us instructions. We started with a few basic disco steps. Then he asked each of us to do a move and the others to copy it. One teenager did a back flip. No one followed. Then we were off down the Rundle Mall with detours, like singing and dancing through cafes and shops. We picked up a number of people along the way. Karen gave them headphones. One was a toddler in diapers, with headphones, dancing away down the mall while drinking from his bottle. Another was a young mom with her toddler on her hip. People waved, cheered, got up and danced a little. We made people happy.
Well, most people. We lined up along both sides of the entrance to a park and sang Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, DuDu lining out the words, call and response, one side to the other
People laughed and sang along, all except one of the barkers who came over with his megaphone. “You can’t do this, stop, this is not good.” The crowd disagreed, they loved it, so he paused and said “Yes … this song is good but not the next one.” Bohemian Rhapsody is a terrible earworm to get rid of.
We had scheduled to start at 6:30 and run to 7:20. At 8 we were still going but I was getting tired and I think this is not exactly Suzi’s flavor. I don’t think she is completely comfortable waltzing (literally) through a café (to Moon River.) Se we handed our phones to Karen “no worries, have fun” and headed off, because we had one more thing to do before grabbing the last train at 9:12 PM that would get us back to the ship for a 10:30 “all aboard.” We walked to the North Terrace for the Parade of Light. Every festival day ends with the parade from 8:30 until midnight. The Government and University buildings have animated art projections tailored for each building. We parade down the terrace looking at them. At the end was the masterpiece. They created an artificial cloud with mist, and with lasers tried to recreate the Aurora over Adelaide. It was stunning, not like any aurora I have seen, but stunning nonetheless. It was like a very bright blue (not green) aurora seen through clouds.