Fringe Festival 2013
My Beautiful Disaster by Nataliya Oryshchuk, directed by Damien McGrath. Gryphon Theatre, Wellington, February 14-17
A Play about Space, written and directed by Uther Dean. Bats Theatre until February 20.
There's always something quirky and unusual on offer during a Fringe Festival. These two shows are prime examples.
My Beautiful Disaster is inspired by the works of the Swedish-speaking Finnish novelist, painter, illustrator and comic strip author Tove Jansson.
A Play about Space is science fiction and a satirical farce, probably a unique combination in our theatre.
My Beautiful Disaster is based on a story by Jansson called The Fillyjonk who believed in disasters and is presented by a Christchurch group who, of course, are well acquainted with disasters.
A howling wind (excellent sound effects throughout by Charlotte Crone) and a nervous sensibility puts the prim Frau Agniszka on edge as she serves tea to her visitor. When her visitor leaves in some confusion, Agniszka is confronted with her fears represented by what are called Creepy-Crawlies, three frightening figures who wreak havoc with her precious knick-knacks and furniture.
But the beauty of this very simple and strikingly presented story is that Agniszka not only survives but becomes a stronger, bolder person. At only 40 minutes long, it needs a companion piece of similar length to accompany it.
On a stage filled with reading lamps (fast becoming something of a theatrical cliche), standard lamps, and an electric fan that is a computer, A Play about Space takes us into the distant future when the Human/Zorgon Alliance's Interstellar War is coming to an end.
There is a plot about a bounty hunter with her past catching up on her but it gets very confusing because it is told at top speed and with ferocious energy by a cast of three, with a fourth (Nicole Harvey) who runs about doing various stage-managerish jobs as well as playing the extra arms of the four-armed Zorgons.
Hannah Banks, Alex Greig and Paul Waggott throw themselves into the action and numerous characters with a vengeance. There's a lively theatrical imagination on display with long cardboard tubes and two angle-poise lamps being used to good comic effect. It's a romp and the audience roared their approval throughout.
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