After a busy Fringe, the idea of having one more blowout, without another late night, was too much to resist. The 4:30pm offering Smashed Arvo, a rambunctious (18+) variety show, was a perfect way to make this happen.
The show’s name is inspired by the fashion of having boozy shows at a time of day closer to brunch than dinner, and production company Hey Boss have some form here. This show won a “Best Food & Drink Weekly Award” at Adelaide Fringe 2022.
A few factors conspire to make Smashed Arvo a memorable event. As pleasant as many established venues are, there’s something truly Fringe about entering a garden to see a show in an intimate tent. The Ukiyo isn’t vintage like, for example, The Bosco, but a similar arrangement of tiered benches meant that everyone was close to the action with a good view.
Smashed Arvo wanted to make sure that their waiting audience were in the right mood for the show. Thanks to wine sponsors Pizzini of Victoria’s King Valley, a (surprisingly smashable) can of wine spritz was provided with each ticket. Any potential scepticism about such a beverage was quickly dissolved in the garden-party vibes.
The crowd was clearly up for an adventure here, as we would only learn most of the programme of this “adults-only smorgasbord of daytime debauchery” inside the tent.
Things got loose pretty quickly, with our acts presenting a (sort of) choreographed routine, leaving hung-over stage manager Cherry Bomb to deal with the mess. Start as you mean to continue …
Like a saucier, modern-day Carmen Miranda, our glamourous MC Jazida twirled and shimmered her way through the inebriated (and regularly amusing) proceedings.
The founders of the Smashed shows (Peta Spurling-Brown and Victoria Falconer) have written that they are “passionately and proudly diverse” and have a “commitment to amplifying and uplifting IBPOC performers” – which showed in this line-up.
There was some rough and tough stuff with Kamilaroi cowboy Dale Woodbridge-Brown (Circus Oz), including a comedic whip routine and some gross-out moves. Kitty Obsidian’s confident strip-tease flirted with risk, and showed the toughness of their character. Hailing from the Torres Strait, Cerulean gave us some campy drag whilst lip-synching, with the added difficulty of zipping around on rollerskates.
Tina del Twist showed the extent of her professionalism in, sort of, delivering a song when feeling under the weather. Malia Walsh (Circus Trick Tease) has a track record with a party-girl character, and found a new spin on that to match the show’s theme.
We won’t quickly forget the energy shown by Jazida in their burlesque tribute to a famously spicy hangover cure, complete with quick-fire musical cuts. As unlikely as it might have seemed, further heat and danger followed when our ensemble returned for the finale.
Supported by high-quality sound throughout, this was indeed a fast-paced Smashed Arvo of tasty treats. It was a little unfortunate to find the So Soiree Garden on the last day of Melbourne Fringe 2023, but here’s hoping the City of Stonnington will continue their support with a return season.
The Ukiyo – Grattan Gardens, Corner Grattan and Greville Streets, Prahran
Performance: Sunday 22 October 2023
Season: 21 – 22 October 2023 (ended)
Image: Malia Walsh – photo by Jacinta Oaten
Review: Jason Whyte