Image description: a young woman with dark hair looks at the camera through Perspex blocks. The blocks distort her facial features and dimensions.
By Harry Price
No holds barred and no better way to capture the eclectic, vibrant and often chaotic energy that is FRINGE WORLD Festival, 600 Seconds is the Blue Room Theatre’s showcase of local talent. Performers are provided ten minutes and one task; impress. The result is a delightfully varied theatrical rollercoaster in six acts spanning comedy, puppetry, drama and song.
Diving straight into the bizarre, two brothers emerge to host the funeral of their departed fish, Christmas. Kicking proceedings off with a kazoo-and-ukulele rendition of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, the ceremony quickly breaks into a brotherly feud, as bodies fly in a hilarious slapstick display of flying bodies – and one flying fish – before collapsing into the comfort of a brotherly embrace.
Tim Lorian’s Yoga pits two activewear-clad ladies against each other, holding a scattered conversation as they trade poses. The first – tall, blonde and slim – seeks to construct the perfect scone, while the second – wearing thick glasses – toils the worldly issues of bushfires and poverty, all the while patting herself on the back. Despite moments of great humour, the pitting of the battered, self-righteous lefty against a privileged naivety still comes off as somewhat simplistic and preachy.
The Brutes’ Kitchen Battles reimagines Waiting for Gordot as two women toil over a meal for a never-arriving guest, Gordon. The comedic, feminist take on Beckett’s mid-century play critiques traditional relationships and the ‘woman’s place’, as we see the pair turn manic; threaten to leave; hurl cookery across the stage; and finally, return to its opening line: “Estrogen, what should I do today? Get married or kill myself?”
Two acts that largely deferred from the comedic route were Drift and Good Boy. The former combines monologue and song to convey the weightless feeling of grief, while confronting well-intentioned but clichéd and unhelpful sympathies. It beautifully and accurately represents the experience of the loss of a parent at a young age, capturing the daunting isolation caused by feeling alone amongst your peers in the knowledge of human mortality.
Through puppetry and object theatre, Good Boy tells tales of the loss and the rediscovery of hope as an old, lonely, sickly man finds the comfort of a runaway dog. Despite expressive, and at times jovial, puppetry, the abstract and largely silent act appears the least suited to the ten-minute restriction and lack of context provided by a group format.
The standout, however, was the simultaneously side-splitting and anxiety-inducing mock talk-show, Ugly Virgins. With the stage lights turned onto the audience, the three hosts begin to interrogate audience members, asking them to share their age and the story of their first sexual experience, breaking into the frantic construction of an ever-complicated and utopian ‘safe space’. The show tears the audience between throes of laughter and pangs of panic, fearing that you may indeed be put on the spot to share that cringeworthy story that nobody wants to share.
Overall, 600 Seconds is sure to provide entertainment as well as insight. The breadth of acts takes you from laughter to reflection and back again, all while providing a platform to emerging and experienced artists, and offering a nicely packaged taster of the broader FRINGE WORLD Festival.
Tonight is the last night you can see 600 Seconds at the Blue Room theatre; the last two shows are already sold-out. Tickets are $26, and you can buy them here.
Harry is a recent Politics and Art History grad (future dole bludger).
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