Part of the Blue Room’s acclaimed Summer Nights program, this platform for new dance, theatre and comedic work that are showcased to a willing audience gives performers 600 seconds (10 minutes) to excel. Like a baby with a pet anaconda, it was an odd mix and the pedestrian was partnered with the comic and entertaining, some definitely sticking more in the mind than others. I’m uncertain if the order of acts was curated, but it ended on a resonating note as the final performances were the strongest. Across 4 nights, there were two programs of work- of which I saw one – each filled with work in the development stage. With little in the way of props, there were seemingly few production costs.
Experimental vocalist Sage Pbbbt opened the proceedings with Anima, an ominous experience of aural immersion. Standing in the darkness before a laptop, he looped and layered sounds as he essentially blew raspberries at the audience in a piece of textured wailing, groaning and gurgling. His cheeks filling like sails before the Roaring Forties, he would wobble his throat and suck air like a Dementor in what was some sort of shamanistic summoning of Beelzebub. Or a Tom Hardy impersonation.
Finders/Keepers followed, as performer Izzy McDonald and writer/director/actor Kelly-Jo Fry dug through a trash can in what was a heavy handed examination of love and affairs of the heart.
Nell Douglas and Mitchell Whelan’s The Path of Least Resistance saw a young gay man (Aubrey) and his gal pal (Sammy) become housemates. While Sammy agonised with her unrequited love for Aubrey, the show was laden with references to Labyrinth as yet another Fringe World show bemoaned the passing of David Bowie.
Choreographed by Ayesha Katz and danced by Dominik Mall, Rhiana Katz and Marcus Alessandrini, Waist Deep in Shattered Glass saw the trio move seamlessly through the dark, illuminating each other one by one with torch light, in an emotional and curious piece of fluidity. The choreography was most physical and exciting when they moved in unison, lifting and turning Katz between Mall and Alessandrini.
The audience responded most wholeheartedly to devisor and performer Reilly O’Bryne-Inglis, who tottered out wearing a tutu, a red nose like Rudolph, and marshmallows attached to the end of pieces of string. An absurdist event, she followed the unusual commands of a yoga audio track to great comic effect in The Dog.
Stealing the show, The Observatory used its 10 minutes to pack in laughs with great economy – whereas other acts had squandered precious seconds with directionless dialogue. The chemistry between creators and performers Nathan Whitebrook and Daisy Grant as they dived into British sketch comedy made for the most entertaining viewing.
The final act – Trace – saw Sharnema Nougar edge her way onto stage wrapped in a rug and holding a tree branch across herself. Initially bewildering, as she just asked audiences “how ya goin’?” for a few minutes, it was eked out that she was in fact a conversational tree and plenty of chuckles followed as she incited the audience to engage with one another.
Words by Samuel J. Cox
600 Seconds ran at The Blue Room Theatre as part of FRINGE WORLD.