Waterloo is a one-woman show about a complicated world and a complicated relationship.
Written and performed by the award-winning theatre-maker (Sweet Child of Mine, Onstage Dating), Waterloo a piece largely defined by anticipation.
It begins in the dark of the Blue Room Theatre, with an array of blue and red balloons scattered across the stage floor. Floating above them is one helium balloon, attached to a string, and gently moving in the breeze of a nearby pedestal fan.
Then, the helium balloon starts moving, and we realise that it’s attached to a remote control car and that, incidentally, the pedestal fan has a big ‘ol knife attached to it. So, we watch as the balloon moves towards the knife, back and forth, back and forth, waiting for the boom.
It’s a fun moment, and I hate the sound of popping balloons! There are more of these moments, where tension and anticipation build together to form prolonged moments of anxiety or fear, but rarely do they come together to form a fully cohesive narrative payoff.
Of course, there is a storyline. Waterloo focuses on Batten’s personal story of falling in love with a British military officer, whose rank is high enough that he’s met the queen, and his name has been redacted from the show because he’s killed people for the purpose of the ‘greater good’. This relationship with its associated moral ambiguity is used to discuss a lot – how we as individuals navigate the complexities of conflict, relationships and democracy; and examine our own beliefs in the process.
Throughout her performance, Batten holds genuine stage charisma and presence, and easily engaged this writer throughout the show, despite humour that, at times, just crude – and an audience where one rude man pulled out his phone fifteen minutes in. This is not an easy thing to navigate as a performer. Shows like this need a fully invested audience to help build their momentum and it’s difficult for any performer without one.
I was talking to a mate after the show, and she mentioned that she “kept waiting for it to start.” I disagree; I kept waiting for it to end. Not because I was bored; I was not. I just kept waiting in anticipation for these threads to come together into something cohesive, to leave me with something beyond this diverse lot of thoughts and questions. In this show, there are a few cool moments of tension, plenty of moments for pause, and one absolutely wicked boom – but these moments by themselves don’t make for compelling, satisfying story.
Waterloo is on at the Blue Room Theatre tonight only. Tickets are $28 and you can get them here.
Three booms out of five
Campbell Williamson isn’t bitter about those eggs. Stop asking.
Image courtesy of FRINGE WORLD Festival
Woodside Petroleum is a principal sponsor of FRINGE WORLD Festival. Pelican has been a long-time supporter of the Festival, and will continue to show its support. However, the Magazine feels it is unethical for Woodside Petroleum to remain a principal sponsor of FRINGE WORLD, given the current climate emergency, and Woodside’s ongoing contribution to climate change.
Other Festivals have demonstrated that ethical sources of funding are possible – you can read more, and sign the petition, here: https://www.change.org/p/fringeworld-side-with-the-climate-and-drop-woodside-petroleum // #fossilfreefringe #fossilfreearts // Arts and Cultural Workers for Climate Action