Sunday, September 23, 2012

Thoughts on the Things I'd Say To You

Source: QTIX
In the oven Warehouse of MetroArts, Fixate Productions are occupying the space with a little piece in Brisbane Festival's Under the Radar. Based on personal experiences, The Things I'd Say To You is a reflection on the process of loss and grief. In a surreal world in between denial and acceptance, characters ponder their ineffable feelings and situations, and consider the possibilities of what could have been.

The two actors, Kitty Gatling and Ilsa Wynne-Hoelscher, are very sweet in their roles. Their performance is very effective and suitable to the show - they're touching, animated, and appropriately bizarre. The only problem encountered is that the text is so heavy and personal it felt like they couldn't/didn't fully connect to the content. The text itself is also problematic to the audience - there are a collection of mundane topics which gradually reveal their personal importance to characters once they're discussed. However they don't seem to provide a satisfying explanation of their importance to the audience, and it doesn't seem they go deep enough for us to feel empathetically. For example, there is a reoccurring discussion with pancakes and their scent, and although I could sort of guess what was going on there with the loved one making pancakes, there needed to be further explanation. It is an engaging script which does have its moments of comedy, and the interactions of the two characters are adorable (Gatling's throw away comments while doing the laundry are particularly amusing).

As the piece aims to be surreal and reflective, it's pretty hazy what is actually going on in terms of narrative. One character constantly refers to the other as 'Mirror' and the other doesn't seem to get a name (I think it was said once, but I missed it). I didn't really enjoy the show because of the circumstances I saw it in. Unfortunately I sat in the third row, so I only saw about 40% of the show - the rest of the time all I was trying to navigate around the fabulous mop of red-hair in front of me and I never got a glimpse of the stand in its full glory. There was a lot of action on the floor that I missed, and the pacing of the piece didn't help.  For some reason a bunch of people, what sounded like a fucking high-heels convention, plodded past in the corridor next to us about 10 minutes into the show, obliterating the charm and intimacy of the room.

The show is minimalist on its technical aspects, but it's appropriate for the nature of the show. Hanna Sandgren's set is simplistic and lovely. It is utilised well by the performers who travel between the wings, and drapes material all over them which was a nice contrast. There were some simple washes in the lighting but nothing really special, and there is only one song used in the show which occurs during movement pieces. Projection is also used in a few instances including some kind of dye technique, but I have no idea what the desired effect was.

The piece is a great work for the emerging company and will hopefully have a sell-out season, and hopefully gets reworked to add a bit more clarity to its text. The Things I'd Say To You isn't the most compelling and dramatic work I've seen, but it is honest and genuine, and seeing the reactions of other audience members it has the beautiful potential to speak and bring solace to so many people who have experienced loss.

Tickets for Fixate Production's The Things I'd Say To You are $15-$20, and is showing as part of the Brisbane Festival's Under the Radar at MetroArts until September 22. Duration of 40 minutes, no interval. Book by visiting Fixate Production's website.

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