Perth's independent theatre hub will once again benefit from all the Fringe action, this time expanding its Summer Nights season to include 32 shows.
Among the diverse boundary-pushing theatre, performance and dance to hit the Blue Room Theatre is Run Girl Run, a show performed entirely on treadmills; shadow puppet extravaganza Swamp Juice; and Squidboy, a show starring a man dressed as a squid that was a surprise hit at Edinburgh.
The stream-of-consciousness comedy-adventure comes from the wacky mind of New Zealand-born clown Trygve Wakenshaw, who trained at prestigious French clown school Ecole Philippe Gaulier. The surreal one-man show sees him don a charming costume and use his bendy limbs, miming and clowning skills to embody the carefree cephalopod.
"It's mostly just an hour of me being ridiculous in a squid costume with a very loose narrative of a fisherman's identity crisis," Wakenshaw says. "I was really interested in imagination and seeing how much I could play with the audience's imagination.
"Performance, when it's really beautiful, lets the audience in on this beautiful dream around the character and their world … I was kind of testing how much of a world I could create."
Squidboy won best performance at Auckland Fringe and enjoyed a sell-out season at Edinburgh Fringe, where it was nominated for a Total Fringe Award and hailed "the cult show of the Fringe" by the website Fringe Review.
Other shows coming to the Blue Room include five-star Edinburgh hit She Was Probably Not A Robot, plus Vicious Circles, a Montreal Fringe hit based on the night the Sex Pistols hit meltdown.
Blue Room executive director Kerry O'Sullivan says, unlike other programs in the open-access Fringe World, Summer Nights is carefully curated. It comprises hand-picked international and interstate acts and re-runs of successful local productions developed by the Blue Room. Among the WA works to be exposed to the international market during the Fringe is ocean-set psychological thriller Great White, blues-infused cautionary tale The Polite Gentleman, and Tim Watts and Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd's puppet comedy, Bruce.
"We always talk about the tyranny of distance and trying to get people from the Eastern States to sit up and take notice of our work," O'Sullivan says. "February is a really special time. Instead of being the most isolated city in the world, the world comes to us."
O'Sullivan says being located in the festival's beating heart at the Perth Cultural Centre has helped the Blue Room gain new audiences and double its summer program since launching in 2009.
"Summer Nights has grown into this beautiful juggernaut," she says. "The concentration of shows in February is something that wouldn't have been supported by the local scene if it wasn't part of something much bigger. Fringe World makes Northbridge a real epicentre of a fun night out."