Fringe Wigs at Broadway + We’re Going Backwards People - Monday 11th September
As I make my way to the station, the warm air hints at impending summer and I’m immediately shedding my overcoat. Today it’s just me and my polar bear tote, out to explore the wonders of wigs and stand-up comedy.
Entering Broadway Shopping Centre from Bay St, four glass cases cut a striking line between two travelators, encasing black mannequins adorned with fabulous headwear. This is the Sean McGrath Wig Exhibition, and the wigs are phenomenal; zany, experimental and ingeniously shaped. I travel up and down a number of times to gaze at them properly. I notice that many around me are ignoring the branded “heads up!” signs, opting for the screen of a smart phone instead.
How you can ignore an art-wig made from “tiny little hands”?
Perhaps it is the lack of spurring companionship, or just the allure of nabbing some groceries while in the close vicinity of a supermarket, but either way I only see the four main wigs on travelator display, despite wandering up another 2 levels in tentative search for more. It strikes me that the exhibition is not entirely designed for specific visiting, as there is very little location info provided online or on site. Perhaps it is the kind of marvellous installation that springs itself upon the unsuspecting shopper to demand, “look up from your goddam iPhone just for one minute and admire the human capacity for creativity.” So if you’re seeking this one out, I hope you have more luck than I do following the follicle footpath. Better still, if you happen upon it (or it happens upon you) I hope you’re able to take a sweet moment appreciating the wonders of imaginative design, in all its GaGa glory.
Taking advantage of the balmy evening, I walk the few blocks to the Sandstone Cottage for James Clark’s stand-up show, We’re Going Backwards People. By coincidence, I run into a friend teching for another show and end up lending a hand setting up wooden stools and benches across a sparse concrete floor. The cottage is bare and slightly shabby, but it’s an emptiness that holds great creative possibility.
The comedy is hit and miss. The jokes are raw and often needlessly crude. Truth be told this is painfully exaggerated by the very intimate crowd of 12 scattered across the 40+ seats. As the lead comic alludes to, there’s not much of a vibe “at 6pm on a Monday.” Despite this, Clark shows all the promise of someone who understands the form and just needs to polish the routine. In one beautiful moment, 3 people appear in the doorway and he welcomes them into the space – only to be told they’re waiting for the next act and would really prefer to get food. Clark hams up the rejection, turning it into an ongoing point of reference that is genuinely hilarious and a perfect example of the contingent live set.
I spend the train ride home thinking about comedic guts and grit, ultimately grateful that Fringe exists to encourage both.
Written by Genevieve De Souza