As you walk in, you’re handed an ice-cube from someone wearing a vaguely Day of the Dead-style suit, and no further instructions. There’s a low, bass-y, static-y rumble, and almost as soon as you’re in your seat – still holding the ice-cube – it’s demanded that the audience gets out of the stalls and assembles on the dance floor, where the two cast members launch into some heavy punk-rock. This is not a drill, one of them repeats. You’re still holding what’s left of the ice-cube. Yep, welcome to Fringe.
For me, this is the heart of Fringe; big-money stand-up acts in 200-plus seat arenas might pay the bills and keep the wine flowing, but for a festival initially started as a rebellious response to the original Adelaide Arts Festival becoming elitist and exclusionary, Fringe needs these sorts of shows to remain the Fringe. Avant-garde, highly experimental, stuff like Cold War gives street cred to the event. MKA, with Doppelgangster, have created a boldly unconventional production that discusses the current inaction on climate change. The two performers talk at each other in rapid-fire, touching on a million topics but always coming back to the same theme. Seemingly all absurdist and random, and with that constant white noise in the background, it all pivots back to an underlying question – can you win your innocence back? Can you right the ongoing wrongs? Each ‘act’ is punctuated by some original punk songs – one notable one claims Titanic was an inside job – and these effectively set up each act’s scenario.
Unfortunately though, there just seems like there’s a bit too much going on at any one time. The conversations between the two actors are peppered with off-hand references and sharp wit, but because they’re also tending to a drone or shaving ice & walking around the audience, you miss specifics and have to rely on just getting the gist of it. Key parts are usually slowed down a bit, but the sound mixing was clearly off, and as a result some of the song lyrics were hard to pick up as well. Whether it was intentional or not, it detracted from an otherwise interesting and engaging show.
Inasmuch as Cold War is clearly designed to be a confronting attempt to experiment with how a play ought to be staged, the lack of narrative and chaotic nature will rankle some people, which is a pity as the spectacle is well worth the effort required.
3.5/ 5 stars
Words by Mikey Della Porta
Cold War is showing until March 15
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