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BWW Review: THE CHOIR OF MAN – ADELAIDE FRINGE 2021 at The Moa (open-air) At Gluttony, Rymill Park

The free beer is in cans.

BWW Review: THE CHOIR OF MAN – ADELAIDE FRINGE 2021 at The Moa (open-air) At Gluttony, Rymill ParkReviewed by Ewart Shaw, Saturday 20th February 2021.

The Choir of Man. Two of my favourite things. I took myself to see them two years ago, fell in love with them and went back the following week with a friend. Last year, I went twice. Okay, pretty much the same show, same jokes, same marvellous arrangements, and the astonishing tabletop tankard-clashing dance routines. I certainly planned to see them again. This time, however, there are two companies in Australia, the other in Sydney, and the publicity material implied there were new singers and new songs.

Isn't memory a strange thing? There were some new faces, but was that a new song, was that a new dance routine, did the Scot nip off stage and come back kilted and stand on the bar playing bagpipes? But George was there, the familiar and welcoming face. Much of the banter, the routine with the card house, is the same. George, however, apologised for the pandemic related changes. They are on the stage in a cut down version of their pub set. We are seated at a distance in the Moa, a grand open air space. The free beer is in cans, handed off the stage on wooden paddles. We can't sing along and, instead of dancing, we are encouraged to wriggle in our seats. The thing that hasn't changed is the music, the dancing, and the amazing camaraderie of the company. Yes, the moves are devised and practiced, but they are so gorgeous to watch in action. The clashing tankards routine at the end is still exhilarating, and yes, I will go and see it again. I'll take a mate.

Near the end, George took the opportunity to thank us for being there, but explained just how important it was for them to be back in Adelaide. God knows how the rehearsals were managed in the COVID confusion of the UK. How close to cancelling did the company come? For us, it's a night at the Jungle. For them, it's a livelihood. Their encore was a song that I've heard several times recently in different farewell contexts. Three high tenors take the lead, the lower voices harmonize and, in honour of those we've lost, or merely misplaced, we and they raise the parting glass.

I've always believed that singing is something that groups of men should do. It's great cardio work, wonderful bonding, and gives a man a chance to be part of something great that doesn't involve burning down your neighbour's house and stealing the cattle. Adelaide has a noble history of male voice choirs, such as the Liedertafel. My mate, Peter Deane, has assembled a group he calls his Merry Men. Perhaps the sudden appearance of the Wellerman sea shanty will lead to a revival, not, of course, of whaling, but of the songs of the sea.

Just a couple of notes. You access the Moa by gate G on Bartels Road. This is a long way up from East Terrace. Once inside the site, finding your way out can be tricky. If you don't feel like joining the lengthy queue for drinks, I discovered that the charming polygonal kiosk outside the old Royal Adelaide Hospital is now a bar right by my bus stop. A glass of wine, and a quick clamber over the parapet when the H30 bus hoves into sight.

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