Hold My Beer is a fun, fast-paced 60-minutes that is a circus and live music homage to some of the many things that seem to happen in pubs or at parties. From the designated driver ‘selection’ and drinking games, though to the looking-after-your-mates check-ups and balance competitions… and everything in-between (fortunately, at this show, without the vomiting and hangovers). All with great acrobatic flair and well-chosen musical numbers—where the musicians (Kristy Stanfield and Sheldon Jadamson) also try out their circus moves, and the circus performers (Regan Henry, Elyse Fitzpatrick and Kelsey Adams) demonstrate their versatility and musical skills.
This is a fun 60-minutes—for the performers and audience alike. There were a number of ‘wow’ moments (yes, there were gasps from the audience at times), applause for some great balance and strength work, and a lot of laughter. It was the first time I have seen a pub arm-wrestle include head balancing, the ‘juggling acrobats’ was great fun (and not just for Sheldon), and the frenzied ‘change places’ was as impressive as it was fast. One of many highlights of the evening was the ‘carne sutra’—or what can happen when you have consumed sufficient shots to try to pick up that attractive person at the other end of the bar (here including a very literal pick up). But there was also hoola-hooping, bottle-manipulation (I feel Kelsey had watched the film Cocktail?), snooker-cue balancing and of course the exceptionally difficult put-your-finger-on-your-nose-and-stand-on-one-leg trick (which Reagan took to another level).
The music added a special twist to the evening—with some great accordion work, piano, guitar and trumpet-playing. Some of the tunes were recognisable (particularly the three/ten-part audience singing!), with the words of most songs tailored to the show. I loved the a capella singing (to the clapping rhythm that included glasses on the ‘bar’), although quite how everyone had enough breath after the previous 50-minutes is beyond me.
Performing a fast-paced show in a small space is not without challenges (more space for run-ups occasionally required, and we all worried that there might occasionally be insufficient headroom for the acrobatics). But I am sure that, with more performances, this team of five talented artists can only improve on what is a great concept, and an already great show.
The 9 May, 2019 performance took place in Open House, a new arts/creative venue, adjacent to the popular Vulture Street bar, The End. The performers worked the room—including audience participation (get ready to limbo)—and had thought through the impact of the shape of the space on sight-lines. Some of the action took place closer to the audience members standing at the back of the room, but it is definitely worth arriving early and queuing to get in, as the seating area is not raked. Sitting close to the main stage (the black mats) will give you the best possible view of the acrobatic moves—although you will be near the bar if you are at the back.
There are only four remaining performances of Hold My Beer in the 2019 Anywhere Festival program—one at The End, and a further three at Bloodhound. I’d be interested to know if many of those 260 tickets are still available. Buy one if you can.
Verdict: A great cocktail of acrobatic skill and live music. Buy a ticket if you can, and get there early to get the best view.
Audience tip: Buy ahead (don’t risk being yet another person arriving to be told that no, they cannot ‘just’ fit one more person into the room). Queue to get seat at the front. If you get the chance, take a seat as close to the main ‘stage’ (the black mats) as possible. 60 minutes, adult themes (including references to drinking games).
The reviewer attended the Thursday 9 May 2019 Opening Night (7:00pm), at Open House (adjacent to The End), 73 Vulture Street, West End, Brisbane.