When you enter the William Street shopfront hosting the Australian debut of the first work from Perth company Theatre Bang Bang, it all feels fairly civilised. The walls display artworks from local female artists, with some especially gorgeous photography by Eleanor Fairweather leading you to the bathroom. But step inside their cardboard theatre and you enter a part of your own brain; the part that has crazy impulses and pulls silly faces, the part that holds your guilty pleasures and your inner stroppy toddler. This is the attic in which two women have been living, completely isolated from society save through the Internet. That is until they turn around one day and see an audience sitting there, watching them.
Creators Katie-Rose Spence and Hannah Pascoe have devised a show about human connection, communicated entirely without words. Instead, they use memes and YouTube clips, pictures of Jeff Goldblum, cardboard cut-outs, and most importantly, their own elastic bodies, to tell their quirky little narrative. The hermit women are like children, gleeful and cunning and timid all at once. When they ‘discover’ the audience, they struggle to act normally and interact with these other humans.
A very physical, high-energy performance, the intimate space is used wonderfully as they really inhabit their set. Perhaps it’s their long friendship and time spent as housemates, but there’s a ring of authenticity in the way they share the stage and fight over their toys. Alternately violating and exalting social norms, the story celebrates the degenerate slob inside us all. The two women are masters of the art of pulling faces, and they literally chew the scenery (to great effect).
This playful Fringe show is hilarious, sweet and a lot of fun. It makes a gentle comment about the change in (and perhaps degeneration of) human communication in the face of the Internet, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with its themes. It’s a bit slow and repetitive at points, but Theatre Bang Bang have delivered on their promise to energise their audience and leave you feeling like you’ve just been given a great big hug. It works best when the audience surrenders to the show and interacts with the performers, so lower your inhibitions and be prepared to play.
Words by Clare Parker