2010 Melbourne Fringe Festival Reviews Part 5:
* Minute Exhibit
* Floating Narrative

Posted on 07 October 2010

The Fringe Festival does a lot to encourage atmospherics and free-floating art. In this way festival-goers are more likely to experience a diversity of art forms and feel encouraged to expand their tastes.

I think even more can be done to promote artists in this way. Certainly the Festival Club helps. With paid entrance you can enjoy snippets from many shows, but they have to be of a certain character to fit the cabaret ambiance. Perhaps near the ticket office at North Melbourne Town Hall, they could have a small stage where people standing in line can be entertained by pieces of shows they might consider seeing. I think it would be fun to have people wearing sandwich boards with poetry and paintings on them wandering about promoting gallery shows and poetry readings.

Two of my favourite “little” experiences at Fringe were Minute Exhibit and Floating Narrative.

Minute Exhibit by Lana Schwarcz

I’m not certain if minute is meant to be pronounced “mih-net” as in the show only went for sixty seconds, or “mai-newt” as in it was a very tiny stage with very tiny puppets.

With coin donation Lana seated people in front of a small box with a peep-hole in it, then placed earphones on their heads. Inside the box was a diorama which presented a little scene within which a stick puppet would act out an event that ultimately included the viewer (no spoilers).

Peering through that peep-hole oddly gave everything within the box a heightened sense of reality. What also heightened both the reality and the comedy of the event was Lana’s fine puppeteering. Her meticulous manipulations gave the puppet a realistic gait and emotionally expressive gestures. A real marvel given how fiddly this must be moving head, arms, and legs on a figure no larger than your hand.

Minute Exhibit was a tour de force. You can see performances at North Melbourne Town Hall.  Lana is also performing in a la carte: Monty and Melville – A Guide Dog Puppet Mystery. Go see it.


Xavier Michelides in Floating Narrative

Xavier is already a fine comic storyteller. I have previously reviewed his 2010 Melbourne Comedy Festival show. With Floating Narrative he’s expanding himself by experimenting with other types of storytelling which can be told in two to three minutes.

He wanders around the festival dressed nattily as a salaryman of the 1950s. Inside his briefcase he has picture cards with which he tells a number of stories. Should you run into him, he offers to freely tell you a tale if you can spare the time.

The story I heard was one of love gained and love lost. It was cleverly structured around his pictures, so that he could use them in a number of ways. He evoked humour, pathos, and a sense of intellectual play.

He has brought the Japanese art form of Kamishibai (dramatic events told with picture cards) into the modern world and injected adult sophistication. Interestingly Fringe has a gallery exhibit nearby of Kamishibai art called Paper Theatre. I like the parallel of his performance title “Floating Narrative” with the description of cultural life in Edo period Japan “Floating World”.

Xavier is something special and Floating Narrative is a gem of an experience. He is demonstrating the breadth available to storytelling while keeping it vital and entertaining. See if you can track him down at the Festival Hub.


Peace and kindess,


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