It’s time once again for the magic of Fringe!
Perth’s largest and most popular annual festival has been transforming Perth City, Fremantle and beyond since 2011; in fact, our fabulously isolated city boasts the world’s third-largest Fringe festival, and attracted almost a million attendees last year. For one glorious month, from 15 Jan to 14 Feb, you can enjoy incredible shows spanning comedy, cabaret & variety, circus, kids' events, dance, music and a whole lot more. It’s one of the most important artistic heartbeats of our state, and a whole lot of fun for the family - and the whole community.
(Psst… We’re lucky to be one of the few places in the world that can enjoy gatherings like Fringe at the moment, so please be meticulous about following Government safety warnings so that we can carry on keeping ourselves and each other safe. #socialdistancing #staysafe #wereinthistogether)
Without further ado, here’s some of our fave Fringe picks spanning a variety of genres, so you can enjoy your best Fringe life!
Love some Aussie homegrown comedy talent? Check out Best of The West for a showcase of top WA comedians, or drop by the hilarious VIC comedy talent Michael Shafar - you might recognise him from The Project, Comedy Bites, triple j’s Good Az Friday and more. According to his bio, since leaving a career in law for comedy, Michael has been working hard to win his mother's forgiveness: we hope that the sold-out shows he’s played to in Perth since 2017 are helping out with that, Michael!
There’s plenty of international comedy flair this year at Fringe. Check out the LOLtasically-named "An Aussie, African & Englishman walk into a bar..." featuring a revolving door of different African, Australian & British comedians every show, including Ethiopean-Australian comedy legend Joe White (and if you enjoy his show, don’t miss Joe White: Ethiopean But Still Not Hungry, and he’s also hosting the Best of Africa comedy showcase). Come and support your home country roots while learning about other cultures in the funniest way possible. And for a true-blue taste of Australiana mixed with English Literature, Bogan Shakespeare Presents: MacBeth would make Shakespeare proud - after all, ol’ Willy was a bit of a larrikin himself!
The Asian Comedy Showcase is back again this year for more comedy gold from Asian and Asian-Australian comedians, and Dr Kim Le’s Against Medical Advice will really show you why laughter is the best medicine (although not approved by the Therapeutics Goods Administration, apparently).
If you’re a teacher, or you know and love a teacher (and don’t we all), you won’t want to miss the Teacher Comedy Special, where you’ll enjoy the musings of some of Perth’s fave comedians who happen to also be teachers. (With those long hours at marking time, and dealing with the legendary Teacher’s Bladder, laughter is the best medicine, right?)
The modern dating game is full of spectator-worthy tragicomedy, as anyone who follows Bad Dates Of Melbourne knows all too well. 250 First Dates is an interactive cabaret piece that’s all about Tania (28/F, frozen-chocolate-lover, serial romantic, narcissists please swipe left) and her dating journey from London-Perth-Vancouver and back, experiencing a bunch of anxiety, heartbreak and wisdom in the process. You’ll find yourself nodding, laughing, and knowing those feels.
Lovers of all things Dolly won’t want to miss A Dolly Parton Spectacular: a truly spectacular tribute to the Queen of Country, by the gorgeous drag queen and lifetime Dolly fan BarbieQ. Sing along to your fave Dolly hits and enjoy the show - and make sure to check out Comedy Queens for more ostentatious awesomeness!
Lovers of the glitz and glam of burlesque are in for a treat, with a wide range of burlesque shows this year including Burlesque Idol, a high-energy and entertaining evening of rising burlesque talent and a panel of expert judges from the industry. There’s also BurLEZque Pillow Talk, a dynamic showcase of Perth’s best queer-femme burlesque performers; the Moulin Rouge-like Le Club Chic A Paris with Catherine Summers and her 5-piece jazz band; and the sensual geekiness of Australia’s “Most Sensuous and Erotic Woman” Frankie Fatale bringing your fave heroes and villains to life in Fatale Attraction, a show that Liza Minelli’s Sally Bowles in Cabaret would be proud of.
Lastly, for a Rooftop Cinema burlesque experience to remember: don’t miss Burlesque Cinema Presents: Burlesque, where top Perth burlesque entertainers perform fab numbers inspired by the hit Cher & Christina Aguelira movie, followed by a screening of the raucous hit - including a selection of showgirls stepping off the screen and strutting right to your seat!
Circuses aren’t just for the kids anymore! (Although don’t worry, there’s plenty of kid-friendly circus events at Fringe). These days, grownups who love the theatrics of the circus are spoiled for choice at Fringe too.
Remember BarbieQ, the drag queen entertainer who’s rocking the Queen of Country for A Dolly Parton Spectacular? She’s also the star of the show, Madonna: The Diva, The Icon, The Circus, along with the stunning aerialists and acrobats of Kinetica, a troupe of high-energy dancers, and Mr Boylesque Australia 2017 Karl Kayoss. Prepare for an exciting collision of drag, circus, dance and cabaret with a fab Madonna soundtrack - it’s a night to remember!
Next up, head back to your 90s heydays with Show Me The 90s, a night of fun-loving nostalgia, fierce choreography and incredible circus talent. Created by internationally renown circus artist Marie Bitaroczky fresh to our shores from faraway Berlin for the world premiere of this show, it’ll make those days of playing Snake on your phone feel like they were just yesterday!
Start the kids off young as appreciators of the performing arts! There’s a ton of fun stuff for kids to do at Fringe, with more than 30 suitable shows that are fun for the whole family - even including the nappy-wearing set. Japanese comedy export Takashi Wakasugi (popularly known as Waka) is delivering up an adorable Animal Adventure for all ages, inspired by coming to Australia on a holiday, going to a beautiful beach and eating a sausage roll with vegemite (an odd but interesting combination!) He got some new ideas and finally invented a special machine that makes it so that kids and animals can talk - what fun! (BTW, if you enjoy his show, don’t miss Farm Backpacker (Subclass 417), where he talks about the surreal madness of doing farm work surrounded by crazy backpackers for three months. M-rated, so leave the kids at home!)
There’s also Vikings, a mighty Viking epic voyage of circus and comedy across rough seas - a journey not to be missed; Best of Edinburgh Kids’ Comedy at the Brass Monkey; and the appealingly-named Best Show Ever, combining circus, science and magic. Magic lovers of primary age and older will enjoy an insider’s view into a magician’s secrets with Jon Fox, while all ages will love Cameron the Magician’s highly interactive Abra Da-Cameron! Your kids will also love trying new things, like all-day Dream Weaver art workshops, doing the Hibble Hop with a real hip-hop instructor, and ravin’ it up at the Family Rave Day.
Shake off those #isolife blues (and the extra centimetres on your waistline) and get your dance moves on! You can step back to the 1940s with Swing Swing Swing, brought to you by Perth Swing Dance Academy, or be part of spontaneous silent flash mobs with Guru Dudu's Silent Disco Walking Tours. And if you’ve got two left feet, or simply enjoy the spectacle of incredibly talented dancers, you’re in luck too: check out the raw, edgy rock-n-roll moves of Cry Baby, the stunning performance of El Flamenco, the contemporary #selfie ballet, and the hilarious interpretative dance of The 2020 Isolympics.
Music & Musicals
Hot jazz and summer in the city! With A Night In New Orleans: Hot Jazz Under The Stars, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported through space and time to the heady jazz days in the French Quarter. A Boy Named Cash is a greatest hits tribute to Johnny Cash, courtesy of Monty Cotton (as seen on The Voice), whose voice is uncannily like the man himself. 70s Record pulls out all your faves from the Disco Decade, and the Simone Craddock Combo deliver sultry blues all the way from London’s West End to the State Theatre Centre courtyard.
Visual Arts and Film
Feel like getting in touch with your inner Queen? You’re in luck, with Paint Your Inner Queen, an interactive art experience by Perth’s own Cabernet & Canvas hosted by Miss Serenity, where you’ll learn how to paint a fabulous self-portrait in drag style. It’s fun, social and perfect for absolute beginners, so enjoy a night of laughs as you make new friends, let loose and have fun!
Lastly, pick up a gorgeous piece of art at Yoowalkoorl - Come On, Come Here, an Indigenous art exhibition & marketplace blend celebrating Aboriginal artists from across the state.
We hope we’ve inspired you to dance, sing, play, laugh and more, with so many sensations for the senses! Have a great Fringe, enjoying some of the best talent you’ll find on this side of the Simpson Desert and from all around the world. And if you’re looking to make the most of Fringe in style with an overnight stay (or longer!), check out the great range of accommodation offers we’ve compiled to help you Stay and Play in Perth!