Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide

I’m frozen in my seat as I watch Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide unfold. Tears swell in my eyes as I listen to the poetry and my heart thumps at the pace of the ECG sound effects. There is no word I can speak and I struggle to take my eyes off the performance to write notes for my review. What I have just witnessed is by far the best show I have seen at the 2019 Fringe yet.
Held at the Libertine by Louis, Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide is a show that is about the life of 2016 Poetry Slam Champion Alison Bennett. Floral Peroxide speaks of her health and disabilities over her life and the pain of silence over the years. It is a poetry performance which incorporated technology and interpretative dance to create a multimedia experience which is accessible to everyone.
I found myself completely consumed right from the moment Alison sat in the wheelchair. This experience only continued as her story appeared in writing on screen. As the words appear, she slowly raises her head from the wheelchair and starts to dance as dramatic music and sounds played. Then when she stood up to read out her poetry, my eyes were fixed on her, listening to her every word.
The poetry Alison spoke to me unlike any other poetry before. Her poetry speaks of identity loss, incredible pain, depersonalisation, discovery, and acceptance. Having a disability myself, her poetry to me was both confronting and empowering, especially the themes of the pain of silence and society’s views on disability. It has empowered me to want to no longer be silent too.
The show structure is nothing short of phenomenal. Alison’s costume design was both stunningly freaky and beautiful. It complements the performance and really brings out the intensity of her disabilities. The sound by 5000AD too was captivating, capturing the emotion of the poems effectively. The lighting and use of screen to tell some of the intense themes of the story were gorgeous. I could feel the pain and the suffering she had gone through as they rolled, taking it all in.
Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide is the must see show of Fringe 2019. It is captivating from start to finish and is one of the most confronting and beautiful performances I have ever seen. If you still can, stop reading this review and go buy a ticket for this show. It is a show unlike any other at this year’s Fringe.
For more information be sure to check out our In Conversation with: Alison Paradoxx article here. For those attending, you can also buy her chapbook, Subtitled Radiology, for $20 after the show.

 


Words by Cameron Lowe

Five stars.

Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide is playing at the Libertine by Louis tonight. Tickets available here.

 

The Displaced

Rhythm, space, physicality, and connection are some of the defining features of The Displaced, a physical theatre collaboration between seven circus and physical-theatre artists. The Time in Space Circus, who’ve performed at the Adelaide Fringe in 2016 and 2017, have been previously awarded for past performances and it is clear to see why.

Physical theatre is always a careful blend of space and the body – in the case of The Displaced, it’s the spaces between the bodies and how those spaces are maintained or alternately disregarded. From the opening act, we see their careful consideration of this as the performers move together and apart; they and audience are always aware of the distances between all things at all times. It makes it all the more striking when these boundaries are deliberately disregarded within the performance. Part of this ‘play’ of connections lies within the development of the work. In a conversation with some of the performers afterward, they explained these moments evolved through them saying ‘no, let’s do this instead’ within the physicality of working together. This tension of demands plays out in the performance to an evocative effect.

Alongside physical connection, there’s also a strong presence of rhythm and repetition within the performance. The effect is a mixture of hypnotic moments that draw the audience in and purposeful arrhythmic contrast. Again, this strong emphasis on rhythm makes the audience exceedingly aware of those moments when the rhythm jars, the connections alter, and the space is disregarded. Small note: the music within the performance can get very high and loud, so bring earplugs if you’re sensitive.

The performance is 50 minutes long, but at no point does it drag. Moments of singular action are interspersed with explosive acrobatic group pieces. Similarly, intense acts are broken up with a very specific brand of physical humour. It edges into the bizarrely absurd as the comedic ‘rule of three’ is trespassed by repetitive actions that become inexplicably – engagingly – funny.  The parts of the show where this humour works to a fine degree are the off key, off tone, off beat moments –  the best being a comedically excellent rendition of ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’.

There’s no overarching ‘narrative’ to the performance. Instead, small stories play out between each disparate performer and their relation to one another. The performance doesn’t answer the questions it evokes, instead leading the audiences to wonder how their personal interactions mirror the ones happening before them. Again, according to the performers, this is due to how the individual acts grew organically from the collaborative process. Whilst the show began development around issues like connection and technology, they puzzle through these questions with physicality rather than a narrative. The strands of connection and disconnection come to a close in the final act with a full troupe acrobatic set. There the disconnect is gone, the displacement is gone, and it’s a gut swooping delight to watch.


Words by Taeghan Buggy.

4.5/5 stars

The Displaced is playing at the Tandanya Theatre every day (except Mondays & Tuesdays) until March 4. Tickets available here.

Shivered

Everyone reaches a crossroads in their life, where two possible paths lie before you, each with unknown results. This is the scenario young Josh (Daniel Cropley) finds himself in Shivered, the latest play from Cropley Productions. A dramatic thriller, albeit with numerous comedic moments, this performance explores the pressure we put on young people, specifically high school students, to pick a path and determine their future at an age where many of us have only barely started to comprehend this whole “adult” thing, let alone the weight of the next sixty-odd years.

The classic “follow your dreams vs be boring and sensible” plot isn’t anything new, but the approach here is definitely unique. And we can see the stakes complicated with the opinions and pressures from people around Josh, such as his girlfriend Lindsey (Ashlin Petty) and supportive sister Louise (Dana Cropley).

Intertwined in this is a peculiar man (Matthew Cropley) who appears to be overly invested in our protagonist. This leads to some particularly dark and intense moments, performed beautifully by the actors. At times there is a disconnect at times between the serious and the lighter moments of the play. In a single scene we have a creepy interaction between Josh and his would-be stalker, and then the wildly comical antics of Dave the Barista (Matt Ahearn), recalling his most infamous customer and an unusual request. This scene was indeed one of the funniest in the show, and I’m sure I’ll be chuckling to myself “pupperchinos” for a while. But while all these elements are solid, the transition between light and darkness could be a little smoother.

The Twist – because there’s always a twist in a thriller – is indeed satisfying and well crafted, if a bit loosely explained. But it didn’t really need to be. It just works. And in the scope of a 50 minute Fringe performance you can only explore so many details.

Theatre is always a risk, especially when you’re a small company without the backing of flashy sponsors and large production department. And it’s so great to see more and more bourgeoning artists putting themselves out there and giving it a go. And I really have to commend this young team for taking on such dark and complex themes. It’s not easy to demonstrate an existential crisis on the stage in such a thoughtful and measured way, and I certainly look forward to see what project they take on next.

Shivered is definitely relatable for anyone who has ever felt themselves torn between two (or more) life paths, or for anyone who may look back and question if they picked the right one. There are no easy answers to these big philosophical questions, but it’s still comforting to watch them play out and realise you’re far from alone in the uneasiness.

4/5 stars


Words by Simone Corletto.

Simone earlier interviewed the team behind Shivered.

Shivered is being performed at Tandanya Theatre at Live from Tandanya this weekend on the 16th, 17th and 18th of February. 

Tickets available here.

In Conversation: the team behind Shivered

The Fringe Festival is full of up-and-coming producers standing up alongside experienced professionals. As part of our exploration of the wonderful experiences on offer, Tulpa’s own Simone Corletto sat down with star sibling co-creators Dana and Matthew Cropley of Cropley Productions to discuss their latest production.

 

So, tell us about your new play, Shivered:

Matt: It’s a play about a young person, in year 12, on the cusp of trying to decide which life path to take in their life. I think it’s pretty universal theme for a lot of young people, especially artistic young people, wondering if they should pursue their passion or go for a more stable career or something in between. This is something our younger brother, who stars in the play, is struggling with that himself as a year 12 student; he wants to be an actor and take it seriously but he doesn’t know if that’s a realistic thing, and he’s been struggling with that. And we wanted to explore this idea in a way that still entertaining.

Dana: And as people who are putting on a play in the Fringe, it’s something we’ve personally experienced as well. Matthew went the more creative path, studying film-making and now doing writing, and I’m doing Psychology, so I went the more stable career path, but I’m trying to balance doing acting and Fringe stuff with that, so it’s definitely still a very relevant issue for us so hopefully we can portray it very realistically.

Matt: It’s easy to agonise over what to do with your life in any respect, and to wonder if you made the right decision or if you screwed everything up, and I think what we’re trying to do is explore the possibility without really offering a straight answer, we’re just opening the conversation a bit.  But also it’s an entertaining play about a stalker, so you know, it’s thrilling and suspenseful, and it’s still an entertaining story in and of itself.

 

Considering your backgrounds aren’t strictly theatre based, what made you decide to use a play to explore these ideas?

Dana: Our whole family has always enjoyed acting and have done it as a hobby since we were little kids. When I was in year 12 we performed Blackrock by Nick Enwright as our year 12 play, and everyone in the cast really wanted to do it again, so we were decided to perform it in the Fringe. I ended up directing that show and I got Matthew and our brother Daniel to be in it, and we really enjoyed it. We’d developed a relationship with Tandanya Theatre, where we performed that show, and so we decided to put on another show the next year. I asked Matt to write a script, and that became Linger, which we performed last year. Now we’re really just in the pattern of doing one every year and we really enjoy it so we just want to keep it going for as long as we can.

Matt: I think, in terms of why a play, there’s the blend of psychology and the arts. Linger was about teenage depression and suicide and looking at that in a realistic way, which we were able to do with Dana and her psychology studies, having learned a lot about that which I think gave us some gravitas behind the story. I think this is a similar thing in that it’s issues pertaining to the mental health of young people which we can look at with my artistic background and Dana’s psychology background, in a well-rounded way. Also through my perspective, I did a film degree and worked as corporate filmmaker for a while, and have come into doing more writing things and I’ve always done acting. A play is a good blend of that literary and psychology, so they’re useful skills.

 

After your first original play, Linger, last year, is there anything you learned about that experience which you’ve taken on board this time?

Dana: Definitely. We really have a good idea of how to direct and produce now, and we have taken a lot of feedback from reviews last year and we tried to include that this year. I think even partially, subconsciously, we got a lot of praise for presenting these ideas in a realistic way, so this year we placed more emphasis on trying to realistically connect with people this indecision, and it’s a lot easier to do that because we are that age, and so it’s not like we’re older people trying assume this is how young people feel, we can just say how we feel and how it applies to everyone.

Matt: For me, with my film background, Linger last year it was kind of written, staged in a more filmic way, and this year I’ve really learned what works best on stage compared to film, and I think that the stagecraft and the script and the directorial stuff has really been fine-tuned.

 

Is this play aimed at younger audiences or will older people get something out of it as well?

Dana: We figure that everyone in their life, no matter what career you go into, has experienced having to make a choice about what path to take, so it’s applicable to young people currently going through that, but also older audiences will be able to relate to it because they may have already gone through it at some point. Plus, it’s just a thrilling play in and of itself.

Matt: And we tried to show a young person who is agonising over what choices to make, and an older person who has made those choices, agonising over whether they were the right ones, so we do cover it from both perspectives. And even if you have no connections to the themes, the story could be taken at face value.

 

How long has taken to develop this play?

Matt: This story and these themes are something I’ve thought about for a long time and wanted to express in some way, but the expression of it in this play started last year as soon as Linger wrapped up. We got together and brainstormed what to do next. And this has gone through quite a few drafts of this play, which we started basically since the last show, and we started rehearsals in August. It’s been quite an intensive script development period, with about a year in actual development.

 

What are some of the challenges you found putting this show together?

Dana: I found that in terms of actually putting on the play, funding is always a big issue. This is obviously a very expensive process to do. Getting sponsors like that is always hopeful – I would say that’s the main challenge. It’s hard work to reach out to the media and the venue and get props and stuff, but if you just do it you’ll get it done. You have to force yourself to do it.

Matt: I think with this one it’s – the struggle I found creatively is working this sort of theme and story without sounding really preachy or didactic. I suppose, and just finding where the actual conflict is. Wanting to tell this story about choosing what to do in your life and with a skilled approach and it’s been a struggle finding the right way to tell that story so that its still entertaining and realistic. It’s been an interesting drill down into those layers and layers of story. The last play I think the story was quite obviously there and this one was more of a creative struggle, but I think this play is a lot better. Also the last play we had a substantially larger cast and it was a bigger undertaking but this time we’ve minimised the cast and various other things, having less stuff but being higher quality.

 

Why did you decide launch your play here at the Fringe?

Matt: The Fringe is great as there’s no real gatekeepers and if you can put on a play, you are allowed to. You’re judged on the quality of your work rather than who you are and what you’ve done, so for young people trying to break into the industry it’s the perfect opportunity to do that. And I think that’s especially great for the sort of message we’re trying to explore, finding the artistic life path.

Dana: Also, with the fringe, basically all of Adelaide wants to get involved and see stuff compared to just a random time of year putting on a play yourself where you don’t get the sort of advertising the Fringe provides or a guaranteed audience to plug your show to, so that comes in handy.

 

Are you looking to tour the show elsewhere?

Matt: I think that’s something we’d love to do. We’ve explored that idea with the last play but it didn’t really pan out. But depending on the response with this one, it’s definitely something we’d look into seriously.

Dana: I think it would definitely be easier with a smaller cast, as there’s five of us, so in terms of scheduling and stuff to be able to take it elsewhere, this year would be much more viable than last year.

 

Any advice for budding scriptwriters wanting to get their start with the Fringe?

Matt: It’s easy to be paralysed by self-doubt, wondering if you’re going to be able to do it properly, but just write the script, get some people together and make something. Especially with the Fringe, you can just sign up and do it. Don’t wait for someone else to give you the opportunity; just make your own opportunity and do something.

Dana: And that’s really why we wanted to start doing shows with the Fringe. Adelaide’s not really a hub of the acting world so if we can just create those roles for ourselves and create something we know can do every year, then why not do that? It’s just such a good opportunity. And for advice, I’d say in terms of actually putting on the show, it can seem very daunting, with so many different steps to put on a Fringe show, and it’s a lot of work, but if you just make yourself do the work and get everything done in time then it’s not really as intimidating as it seems.

 

Shivered is being performed at Tandanya Theatre at Live from Tandanya this weekend on the 16th, 17th and 18th of February. Tickets available here.