In search of a vanishing point
By Myron My
As we take our seats for #howtodisappear, a voice-over and screen in front of us begin stating the terms and conditions of sitting in this show. We are asked to turn off our phones, but then the conditions delve further and further into issues of privacy and the voice-over begins to speed up at an almost inaudible pace.
Once the exhaustive list is finished, we are told if we disagree with any of these we have three seconds to leave the venue – otherwise we have just signed on the dotted line. This humor sets the tone for the rest of #howtodisappear.
The two performers, Patrick Considine and Christian Taylor, charm with their banter and interactions with us, as they playfully attempt to ‘one up’ each other on “The World’s Most Difficult Magic Trick”. The magic tricks were great to watch and there was much discussion with my friend as to how they could have been done afterwards.
Even though I enjoyed the show, I struggled to see any link between what was performed on stage and the description of the event. I felt I would be seeing something about technology and how nothing is private and everything about you is out there but instead, it was more or less about the magic tricks.
The other thing that puzzled me was being asked to provide the artists with our name and number so we could “fully experience the performance”. However, all that transpired was a single text message that just reiterated what the artists has asked us in person. Even the response I sent resulted in no further interaction with them, so I was confused as to its purpose.
I feel more work was needed on the ideas that Considine and Taylor were trying to convey with #howtodisappear. A clearer link between show description and performance, for example, was something required for audiences to more fully appreciate this work.
#Howtodisappear was presented by Fr!sk Festival at the Victorian College of the Arts as part of the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival.
Some are more equal than others
By Myron My
This is how we are greeted as we enter the world of Contra for the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival. But we are not really cousins – we are comrades in a futuristic dystopia where we are blindingly loyal to our great leader and under the ever-watchful eye of – well – just about everyone.
Presented by Fr!sk Festival at the Victorian College of the Arts, there is an immersive element in the first part of this show that felt like I was in a version of 1984 or The Hunger Games. We are all huddled outside and numbers are read out announcing the winners of a lottery to see who will be chosen to work in a career department, a most honoured position.
Surrounding us are posters with propaganda slogans such as “Report or Regret” and “Equal and Fair”. We are then marched single file through the building, getting fingerprint-scanned and collecting our food ration pill. Various precincts are mentioned and ever since ‘The Great Disaster’, we all serve under the watchful eye of The Conductor.
From here on, it’s a fairly straightforward performance exploring the impossibility of curbing natural instincts and speculating as to where the desire for power and ambition can lead. As the audience, we are oppressed civilians watching these character’s lives begin to crumble as the pressure to conform reaches breaking point. The five performers in the cast do a great job in their respective roles but Simone French and Cait Spiker particularly impressed me with the levels of commitment invested into their portrayals. Moreover, the choreography and soundtrack used in the ‘sexual misconduct’ scene was executed effectively in creating an opportunity for these characters – and for their audience – to experience a moment of real emotional connection.
The plot is a familiar one for this dystopian genre with no real twist or surprise, but the initial immersive experience is what won me over. There are ultimately some interesting messages that Contra offers about life, society and expectations, but I feel the play is summed up best with one character’s proclamation that ‘freedom should not be a privilege’.
Contra was presented by Fr!sk Festival at the Victorian College of the Arts as part of the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival.