SYDNEY FRINGE FESTIVAL: This magical mystery tour of art and entertainment was a highlight of the Sydney Fringe.
On Saturday September 18th the Mystery Bus picked up 100 energized passengers from the newly reopened Imperial Hotel, a famous and always infamously trashy gay bar that has been restored within an inch of its life (I don’t like the new colour scheme and they don’t have Coopers on tap). Luckily the idea of the tour was to drop off our eager passengers at different locations each night, with no idea what to expect from each performance. Because of the nature of the experience, this review of The Mystery Bus
component of the Fringe Festival will be more a review of an idea than of the event proper.
With the great mix among the crowd, a cute guy in a tweed hat snaked through the car park serenading us all. We boarded the bus with a sense of wild anticipation and indeed, an air of mystery. Few on the bus actually knew where we were going, and we had great fun loudly wondering which gay sex club we might be delivered to. Nevertheless, after a short drive one suburb away we disembarked in an industrial area within St Peters and our energetic host announced we had arrived.
Filing through a non-descript door we found ourselves at the foot of a large statue of the Budda, in a large warehouse space that was beautifully lit and filled with a crowd of 100 people waiting anxiously for the performance to begin.
Charlie Maddox, one of the best double bass players in Australia, started with an upbeat jam before we were treated to a sensual belly dance from Kale. There was an accomplished mime performer (which frankly scared me – mimes always creep me out); but it was the amazing beat poet Scott Sandwich who really fired up the crowd. In a web of words he gathered up all the energy in the room, and lifted it up, leaving us all mesmerised.
There was hula hooping, a puppet show, drag performance, and a quite amazing contortionist. Another standout performance was DJ Munted Monkey, who played music ranging from live dub to Beastie Boys between acts, leading up to the evening’s climax: The Caravan Of Doom. A crazy Melbourne-based carnie-esque group of circus performers.
It was a great idea to get the general public along to these secret spaces which are not widely known about. A performance night in a warehouse is so fundamentally different from the normal physical spaces in which we are entertained. For this we are thankful. Thank you Mystery Bus, may you ride again.
The Mystery Bus, season concluded.
The Sydney Fringe, September 10 – 26
First published on