REVIEW: Side Pony Productions Presents THE CONFIDENCE MAN

Like nothing you’ve ever experienced

By Tania Herbert

When an audience sees a show, and then afterwards won’t leave because they are too engaged with talking about the performance (frequently, it appeared, with people they had never met before), you know something pretty special has just happened. And last night was the night where I picked my hands-down winner for most engaging and original piece of theatre for 2013.

 Side Pony Productions took a huge risk on this one. The creativity to just come up with the concept is phenomenal, much less to have executed it..  There are three possibilities for audience members. Before the show begins, they may be invited to don a magnificent puppet mask (by designer Rebecca Bauman) and perform as one of the six characters of the show with instructions being fed to them through headphones.

Photo Credit Ponch Hawkes

For the rest, they can select whether they would like to hear the narration of the story from the sidelines, or they can choose an interaction option, where they can don the headphones and switch between channels of characters, hearing that character’s inner thoughts, outer dialogue and stage directions.

On entering the venue, you can choose your seat and headset, and the stage is marked out into rooms. Each character begins on their own story, finally coming together to a terrible conclusion. Even as a modern thriller, this is a great show. The characters are intriguing, and the inner monologues are poetic and powerful. The whole effect is something like watching a giant, sinister dollhouse after the children have gone to sleep.

The whole piece is beautifully soundtracked, and switching between channels was absolutely flawless. The timing and complexity of weaving the stories so that you can receive a full experience no matter how long you spend with each character is mind-boggling to say the least, and the sound designer (Sam Price) must be the most patient man in the world.

As expressed by the director, Zoe Pepper, it was a show where so much could go wrong – and there may have a been a few missed cues, a costume malfunction, and I think there may have even been a finger pistol at one point after a prop was misplaced. However, the director also speculated that so much could go right – and right she was. This was one of the most powerful, unique, and immersive theatre experiences I have ever had the privilege of being witness to. I had thrills. Several times over.

A wise person told me that the best indicator that a show is amazing is that the reviewer will then go back independently to watch it again. I’m booking my ticket for the weekend.

Season: Wed 28 Aug – Sun 1 Sept

Time: Wed- Fri 6.30 & 8.30 / Sat 4.30, 6.30 and 8.30 / Sun 2.30, 4.30 and 6.30

Duration: 60 minutes no interval

Venue: Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry St

Tickets: Full $30 / Conc $25 / Student $20

Bookings: artshouse.com.au or 03 9322 3713

Advertisements