Englishman Alex Cofield made his Adelaide Fringe debut last year in sweltering heat, dressed up as a woolly merino as he regaled his audience with tales of his transition from a staid village existence back in Blighty to the vast sheep farms of south-eastern Australia.
It was one of the criminally under-loved gems of last year’s event.
This year, we are privileged to have him back in our town with his new show, Supernova. And this time we get to hear his back story, detailing his earlier pre-Oz life, as he endured growing up in the village of North Piddle, a flyspeck on the English map, seemingly a picturesque sleepy backwater, but exposed here as a hotbed of political and personal chicanery.
The audience is given a masterclass in story-telling. Whilst it is mostly told at breakneck pace in Anglo white-boy rap – think a slightly more genteel Mike Skinner of The Streets – and timed to the second to synch with the pre-recorded musical backing tapes, every character and incident is drawn with incredibly vivid detail. Cofield’s astoundingly consistent use of rhyme is a thing of wonder – often unexpected but never forced in its choice of words.
Such is Cofield’s narrative skill, you cannot help but clearly visualise the young Alex dealing with the machinations of the village overlord, Fishwick; or see him battling for verbal supremacy with Big Pat down the local. You can feel him reel from the visceral tongue-lashings he receives from his neighbour, Cheryl; and you actually believe yourself to be a voyeur pretending to examine produce as you observe how he cunningly (and patiently) extracts information from Wendy, the verbose town gossip in the local shop.
With little more than a simple removal of his cap, or the donning of a pair of glasses, or, in the case of Wendy, a simple resting of his chin on his palm, Cofield achieves his character transformations seamlessly and believably.
The plotline – a simple one of escape from the provinces in search of greater personal fulfilment out in the wider world – carries within it a great deal of insight into the human condition, and the gentle humour embedded within this narrative conveys great affection for the people whom he mocks, as well as conveying an appealing degree of humility on Cofield’s part.
The only issue I had with this show was that the 50 minutes of the performance flew by too quickly!
I hope that this tale one day makes it into print. It is far too good to become merely a cherished memory in the minds of those who were lucky enough to have caught this show during its brief run.
Alex Cofield – Supernova deserves ‘Sold Out’ signs to adorn the doorways of Rajopolis every night of this 2018 Fringe season.
Good people of Adelaide – make it happen!
Rating: 5 stars
Alex Cofield: Supernova is being performed at Rhubarb, Rhubarb at Rajopolis, Raj House, 54 Hyde St. Adelaide until March 4.
Tickets: Alex Cofield Supernova