Current Issue #488

Fringe Review:
Amanda Palmer at RCC

Amanda Palmer
Kahn and Selesnick
Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer tackles her inner-demons through storytelling and song in a deeply personal, often uncomfortable but always insightful one woman show.

For those who aren’t familiar with Amanda Palmer’s brand of no-holds-barred honesty, There Will Be No Intermission, might come as quite a shock. Talking openly about her experiences with assault, abortion and death, Palmer works to create a unique, shared vulnerability between herself and the audience, beckoning them to acknowledge that all pain is valid.

Harking back to adolescent years spent breaking piano strings and discovering The Cure, Palmer takes the audience on a journey throughout her life, from making her start in music to the success of her band The Dresden Dolls. And, eventually, the Amanda Palmer of 2020: an unapologetic storyteller who overcame the darkness.

Despite its four-hour run time, There Will Be No Intermission remains highly entertaining and engaging as the multi-talented Palmer can pivot smoothly from delivering an intense, emotional monologue to playing the opening chords of the Dresden Dolls’ Coin Operated Boy when things get too sombre (an audience member only has to shout: “Amanda I’m feeling sad!”).

During the show Palmer explores her career, and reflects on Facebook faux pas. She wonders aloud whether she is too opinionated, too loud in the echo-chamber of American politics. Palmer expresses her trepidation about motherhood, anxiety-stricken over whether she will become one of the ‘Frozen parents’ who shove an iPad in front of their children. Singing Part of Your World from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, she evokes the perspective of an unborn child, pregnant mother and cool goth musician all fighting for agency in the complicated journey to parenthood.

Built upon her crowdfunded album of the same name released last year, it’s a show that doubles as an intricate map of her life complete with signature theatrics and brutal honesty. “Most are the songs are exercises in survival,” Palmer says as she strums You’d Think I Shot Their Children (a poignant retelling of her public backlash after the Boston Marathon tragedy in 2013) on the ukulele. Palmer is never afraid to get political, lambasting the Australian Government for their handling of the bushfire crisis with an impassioned performance of Midnight Oil’s Beds Are Burning at the end of the show, urging audiences to fight back for their country in any capacity necessary.

There Will Be No Intermission is a necessary show that encapsulates the struggle for art, beauty and belonging. Through it all, Palmer’s insights, wisdom and open honesty command the stage for four hours, a feat unlikely to be matched by many other artists on the Fringe circuit – or perhaps anywhere.

There Will Be No Intermission was performed at Bonython Hall on Saturday 15 February as part of the RCC Fringe program

Olivia De Zilva

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Olivia De Zilva is a writer, curator and poet living in Adelaide.

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