Performance reviews: Myth, Propaganda and Disaster and the Heirs of America, and Le Freak, Melbourne Fringe Festival

A successful, spine-tingling sequel and good hour of circus entertainment.
Disaster. Image is of ‘Le Freak’ at Melbourne Fringe Festival 2023, with a backdrop of flames behind a devilish figure with horns and one arm raised.

Myth, Propaganda and Disaster and the Heirs of America

The pen is mightier than the sword as the old saying goes. In Myth, Propaganda and Disaster and the Heirs of America this saying was most certainly put to the test.

Who was more powerful and dangerous here: the words of student writer Sophie (played by Tessa Luminati) or those who had been offended and were now stalking her online and in real life? Her stalkers were members of the alt-right and international neo-Nazi groups. For this writer, who has recently drawn the attention of these exact same groups, the show presented an eery similarity. 

As a sequel to Myth, Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America, this was a successful and spine-tingling continuation of the original work. From the opening lines, which asked, ‘Is it OK to punch a Nazi in the face?’, you could tell that the rest of the work would be dripping with deep philosophical questions.

As the narrative continued, Sophie’s grip on reality began to quickly unravel. The walls were caving in and these alt groups were revealed to have infiltrated Sophie’s university in an attempt to spread their dangerous ideology by the end of the performance.

Beautifully written by Robert Reid, whose direction was also perfectly executed, Myth, Propaganda and Disaster and the Heirs of America was a reminder that not all shows in the Melbourne Fringe Festival program were upbeat and fun over drama and substance.

The rest of the cast gave near perfect performances; however, some lines were either missed or stumbled over. For this, the performance fell just short of deserving a five-star review.

Overall, Myth, Propaganda and Disaster and the Heirs of America was an incredibly powerful and important work, which shed new light on contemporary threats to free speech.


Myth, Propaganda and Disaster and the Heirs of America
Written and directed by: Robert Reid 
Performed by: Gabriel Partington, Tessa Luminati, Rachael Baring, AYA, Orion Carey Clark, Yvette Turner, Casey Bohan

Myth, Propaganda and Disaster and the Heirs of America was performed from 14-22 October at La Mama Courthouse. 

Le Freak

Packing out houses across Fringe Festival was this irresistibly quirky piece of high-octane sideshow shenanigans, which if nothing else presented a good hour of entertainment.

Of course, with a cast as luminary as those in Le Freak, the subsequent performance was always going to delight. Its representation and diversity of cast also demanded commendation.

As a narrative through line, the “waiting on the phone for Centrelink” skits proved a hit with audiences, likely with many relating to this scenario with a sick grimace. The other narrative through line – that of the corporate overlords who continued to interrupt the performance asking each act to ‘tone it down’ or ‘fit within their idea of performative allyship’ – was also a blistering take down of contemporary society.

But did Le Freak live up to its hype? Perhaps one of the most telling signs is that this show, unlike others included in this Fringe, did not leave an indelible mark for this reviewer. Furthermore, a good portion of the acts in it had been seen in other similar variety shows. For a less seasoned audience member, perhaps, each act in Le Freak would have been incredibly thrilling.

Read: Performance reviews: Big Dyke Energy and T4T: A Transgender Showcase, Melbourne Fringe Festival 

These small criticisms aside, Le Freak delivered what it promised, and was a brilliantly produced and tightly executed performance that will surely continue to be presented at other festivals, both around Australia and internationally in years to come.


Le Freak
Created by: Elle Diablo and Themme Fatale 
Performed by: Themme Fatale, Elle Diablo, Sarah Birdgirl, Dale Woodbridge-Brown, Bella de Jac and Bubbles the ferret

Le Freak was performed at Festival Hub: Trades Hall – ETU Ballroom from 4-22 October.

This review is published under the Amplify Collective, an initiative supported by The Walkley Foundation and made possible through funding from the Meta Australian News Fund.

Jessi Ryan (they/them) has been creating performance and exhibitions for the past 20 years, both locally, nationally and abroad- in this time collaborating with a huge number of artists from a broad cross section of cultural backgrounds. As a journalist they have written for and been published by some of Australia’s leading arts and news editorial across the last 10 years-and was recognised as a finalist for Globe Community Media Award in 2021. Ryan has also taken photos for a number of print and online publications.