Artists reveal all at this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival

This year, Melbourne Fringe Festival artists bare all in tremendously honest performances or all sorts. From cringeworthy sex, to being a witness in the George Pell case, to living with Poland’s Syndrome, all kinds of deep and dark personal stories will be revealed at Fringe from 12 – 29 September.

In Cardinal Sins: Pell in a Cell, comedian Frank Hampster shares his experiences as a witness at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. In 2016 he wrote about his experience of sexual assault while growing up in Ballarat as a Catholic boy.  Frank had to pull the show 24 hours before the first performance due to Cardinal George Pell’s case going to trial, so he rewrote it to four-star reviews from around Australia and a stunning audience response. Following award nominations at Perth FringeWorld in 2017 and 2018, Cardinal Sins comes to Victoria for the first time – a compelling story of our time, and a heart-warming, emotional comedy. Frank vowed to kiss Julia Gillard’s feet for setting up the Royal Commission if he ever met her, and he did. 21–29 September, Fringe Hub: Trades Hall – Toy Library.

Over the past few years, Michelle Jarni has been having terrible sex. A photographer by trade, she decided to turn her bedroom mishaps into an Instagram art project called Dud Roots, sharing her awkward sexual encounters with the masses. Join Michelle as she asks where the stud roots are and why dud roots happen to good people. A sex show where no one cums and everyone sees the humour in that. 26–28 September, The Melba Studio, Collingwood.

Also getting to the bottom of unpleasant sexual encounters, Georgie Adamson asks Who Gave Me Genital Warts? Part memoir, part bad erotica, Georgie looks back through her sexual history to try and work out who gave her an STI in this sexy who-dunnit. 21–29 September, Fringe Hub: Trades Hall – Toy Library.

Scarred for Life sees Adelaide-based singer-songwriter Josh Belperio dissect his hospital trauma while leaving the audience in stitches. Josh survived flying over the handlebars of his pushbike, rupturing his spleen and nearly bleeding to death – and now he’s written a show about it. Josh recalls his finer moments in hospital, from his boyfriend watching him pee into a bottle to revealing his rear end in a hospital gown. 23–29 September, The Butterfly Club.

Andi Snelling of Neighbours fame also explores when life takes a spectacular wrong turn in her new show. Written after she is forced to face her own mortality, Happy-Go-Wrong explores the darkest depths of human struggle and the power of resilience. Fri–Sun, 13–29 September, The Burrow, Fitzroy.

Claire Elizabeth Dea shares her ‘breast’ kept secret in Devil Woman, a vibrant, moving, and transcendental one-woman cabaret delving into her experience with Poland’s Syndrome which has left one side of her body muscles undeveloped. 23–29 September, The Butterfly Club.

Do you Even Gestate, Bro? explains the birds and the bees through a unique acrobatic display by Elemental Performance Troupe (EPT). Experience the miracle of life, with a sperm race, male gestation and plenty of flying nappies, as EPT take audiences on a voyeuristic story of babyhood. 19–21 September, Gasworks Arts Park.

BOOBS follows one woman and her two boobs through a life changing decision to undergo a double mastectomy for purely cosmetic reasons, and the unanticipated hurricane of resistance that surrounded her decision. This is a timely story of an individual’s determination as Selina Jenkins unwittingly shakes the very foundations of how we perceive gender, body autonomy and boobs in general. Selina is a past winner of Melbourne and Adelaide Fringe Festival Best Cabaret. 12–20 September, Fringe Hub: Trades Hall – Music Room.

One of the UK’s most significant performance makers, Bryony Kimmings returns to Melbourne with her theatre show about motherhood, heartbreak and finding inner strength in I’m a Phoenix, Bitch. In 2016, following postnatal breakdowns, an imploding relationship and an extremely sick child, Bryony nearly drowned. Now, she is able to deal with life again, but still wears the dark scars of that year. 11–15 September, Arts Centre Melbourne – Fairfax Studio.

The decision to remain childfree is explored in The Kick Inside,where one woman tackles societal expectations and how they influence our decision-making, 21–29 September Fringe Hub, Trades Hall – Archive Room.

Nevernatal isa sassy comedy inviting audiences to the mother of all baby showers. Erika’s best friend Paige is pregnant, leaving Erika wading through another living Pinterest hell and playing that weird chocolate nappy game. Thu–Sat, 19–28 September, Club Voltaire, North Melbourne.

Melbourne Fringe was established in 1982 as an annual open access festival that champions cultural democracy and supports anyone to participate in the arts. Fringe programs include the annual design exhibition Fringe Furniture, participatory public art commissions, children’s programs as well as its First Nations program Deadly Fringe, disability and Deaf arts programs, mentorships, workshops, residencies, forums, awards and touring support.

Melbourne Fringe Festival 
12 – 29 September 2019
Tickets on sale 9 August at