ADELAIDE FRINGE FESTIVAL Black Coffee: Set in a 1950’s club named Black Coffee, this show comes alive with the energy and pizzazz of sharp jazz, complete with the aroma of good strong black coffee.
[This is archived content and may not display in the originally intended format.]
Artshub Logo


Set in a 1950’s club named Black Coffee, this show comes alive with the energy and pizzazz of sharp jazz, complete with the aroma of good strong black coffee.

This is an energetic show, which is more that just a themed dance performance. The audience are treated to an insight into the private lives of the performers through action occurring both on stage and at tables within the audience. In Black Coffee, drama coupled with dance (as well as small added details like a snack food vendor) adds strong elements of interaction to the performance and helps to immerse the audience into the club theme.

Far from the theatre were no food and drink are allowed, the audience is encouraged to get a glass of wine or cappuccino, or even a packet of chips or chocolate bar, on the way in and sit drinking and eating while watching the show. As well as helping to set the scene for a dance club, these small details help set the audience at ease and make them feel comfortable, removing them from the role of mere spectator and making them engage with the jazz club theme.

This performance makes good use of the stage and audience space, although some of the theatre is lost for those siting further back in the stalls, which is unfortunately inevitable. Lighting focuses the audiences’ attention on the events unfolding both on stage and among the audience, which is a performance in itself. Do we turn and watch the theatrical argument behind us or go with instinct and politely ignore the awkward ‘lovers tiff’?

The flow from dance routine to theatre worked well, as well as the transition between dance numbers, which can be difficult when multiple costume changes are required. In keeping with theme of Black Coffee, the costumes were well planned and complimented the dance routines, accentuating the movements of the dancers with a flick of a skirt or the rustles of fast moving tassels, adding to the overall visual effect of each dance.

The Charlie Horst Jazz Orchestra provided the live music for the jazz dancers who danced with an elevated level of vibrancy and obvious enjoyment. The showpieces were well choreographed by Jo Mc Donald, and mixed a nice blend of 1950’s style jazz dancing with highly contemporary interpretative dance designed to give insight in to the life of a woman in the 1950’s.

With the exception of the grand finale of Showpiece 8, the solo and duet dance routines were the strongest in this performance. While the group dancing was very good, the synchronisation of movement needed to be tightened when several dancers were performing the same action. This said Showpiece 8 at the end of the performance came together exceptionally well, with a sense of elevated energy, vibrancy and visual cohesion of movement among the dancers, which all added to the visual effect of the final routine.

Black Coffee is a lively performance combining dramatic theatrics with vivacious dance leaving the audience with a feeling of invigoration, like they had just drunk a stiff black coffee.

ADELAIDE FRINGE FESTIVAL: The season runs for four nights only, 6, 12, 13, 14 March and is showing at the Marion Cultural Centre which is about 20-30mins drive from the city of Adelaide. Tickets cost $20 per person.

Jade Wildy
About the Author
Jade Wildy is an art theorist and historian based in Adelaide, Australia and she is currently studying for a Masters of Art History at the University of Adelaide. Jade holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts, with a major in ceramics from the University of South Australia. Jade aspires to become an art writer and researcher to pursue her love of visual art and art history. Her current research interests centre around contemporary art with a particular focus on Environmental Art, but she also has a love for psychology, biology and contemporary culture through art, music and dance. Jade enjoys working in her established home studio, as well as fiction and arts writing, and have written numerous reviews for ArtsHub Australia on both visual and performing arts in addition to several book reviews.