Long-form Review: Walking Through History

Kyron Weetra spent the first Sunday of the Fringe travelling back in time…

feature (adelaide) | Read in About 4 minutes
Published 19 Feb 2024
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A Solo Commedia dell' Arte Show image courtesy of Adelaide Fringe

I wake up earlier than normal and actually have breakfast for once as I’ve densely packed my Sunday with a suite of shows hand-picked for their connection to South Australia’s history as a colonial state and judging by the first one’s location I’m going to need some nutritional energy to make the trek. 

Located in the appropriately named suburb of Panorama, Sleep’s Hill Tunnel [★★★★] is an immersive activation of an old train tunnel that stretches for 377 metres and is fuelled by wondrous light projections and reflections from the past. The tunnel was a part of the OverLand line, the first passenger train service from Adelaide to Melbourne from 1897, but as the line was decommissioned in 1917 it’s seen days as a storage facility for precious artefacts, a funghi farm and is currently being used by the owner and initial guide, Dave Munro, for wine storage. I wander through different curtained sections ranging from historical footage being projected on the walls to a psychedelic glow in the dark mushroom world reminiscent of Alice In Wonderland. The cavalcade of lights and visuals that stretch across the tunnel engulfs you in the most magical way. After going through all of these sections that flit between the surreally imagined and the richly real, the last video piece is quite grounding and makes my heart soar in appreciation of this beautiful city. 

After making my way out, I am hit by a distinct plume of heat, which makes me aware of the cold of Sleep’s Hill Tunnel. I trek my way down the panoramic hill and catch a bus towards the city, replaying the old videos of locomotion I’d just witnessed and overlaying them onto the view outside my window. Lost in my reflections I end up at Gluttony quicker than expected, except this time it won’t be a mere reflection. This time I’m being flung back to the past in order to save the post-apocalyptic world by rediscovering important South Australian inventions in the world premiere interactive event SA Inventors Escape Room [★★★]. We – me and the cohort of skilled strangers who booked at the same time – get locked into the time capsule with 20 minutes to find three different scientific diagrams. I find the puzzles quite clever, engaging and even though the answer is never too far from your fingertips it’s still incredibly satisfying when you finally grasp it. We end up escaping with three minutes left on the clock which places us in the top five for the Fringe so far. That probably won’t last for long… My only disappointment is that the escape room is so richly dressed with information that I genuinely want more time in the room to just appreciate what they’d done. I left the room still guffawing at the fact that South Australia invented the plastic spectacle lens. 

A slow walk down North Terrace, admiring the university buildings forged in the age that I had just escaped from, leads me to The Yurt at The Courtyard Of Curiosities located at The Migration Museum to see Andrew Crupi’s A Solo Commedia dell' Arte Show [★★★★]. The traditional hand-built pop-up venue adds to the old world charm and precision that Andrew Crupi brings to his masterful tribute to the 16th century art form that utilises masked ‘types’, pantomime and well-known tropes and routines called ‘Lazzi’. The seamless world-building and deft character work shown by Crupi truly allows this absurd classic to shine. At times Crupi is playing up to five characters at once with the masks upon his hands, head and hanging from various spots of the set. I particularly revelled in the use of different accents to portray these Italian comedic archetypes, an apt modern fusion reflective of Australia’s rich multicultural history and of the venue’s location. The whole show is live-scored by Jake Morrison on acoustic guitar and he does a great job of inserting musical tropes and spoofs, surrendering to the urge to play ‘Eye of the Tiger’ during the battle scene, much to the audience's mirth. 

I walked out of the yurt sweating and beaming and I let myself loiter slowly through everything else the Migration Museum had to offer, pondering the fascinating things I had learned and the many amazing ways in which one can engage with the past here at the Adelaide Fringe. 


A Solo Commedia dell' Arte Show, The Courtyard of Curiosities at the Migration Museum and Comida, until 10 March

SA Inventors Escape Room, Gluttony, until 16 March

Sleep's Hill Tunnel, The Tunnels, until 17 March