Fringe Festival 2013
Madam X and Mister Q
Adapted and directed by Megan Evans
Studio 11, Victoria University, until March 2
Follow, Follow, Follow
By Angie Farrow, directed by Nigel Edgecombe
Bats Theatre, until February 27
One of the more ambitious productions in the year's Fringe Festival is the adaption into a play of Five Spice Street, the first novel-length work to be published in English from controversial Chinese women writer, Can Xue.
There is little if no plot within the novel which is essentially about the reactions of those living on Five Spice Street to the mysterious women Madam X and then the equally mysterious arrival of Mister Q. Through the supposition, prejudice and often fantasy of the inhabitants of the street Can Xue puts forward her ideas of the world, the street being a microcosm of how the writer sees things globally.
To adapt what is essentially a stream of consciousness into a stage presentation is a brave undertaking and although the production values are highly commendable overall the obscurity of the underlying themes never transcend into a satisfying whole.
The director, Megan Evans, who is also the adaptor, has schooled her actors well, with many inventive moments covering a range of theatrical forms. Very physical and often subtly erotic, the cast confidently throw themselves in the piece with commitment and dedication.
But at the end of the day perhaps Five Spice Street should have stayed as it was intended, as a novel.
The same could also be said of the current early evening show at Bats, Follow, Follow, Follow.
From NZ playwright Angie Farrow, it explores how a group of 16 year olds manage themselves after being locked away in a secure environment for 12 years. How do they cope without any outside, particularly adult, influences? What are their behavioural patterns like, and how do these differ from what is considered “normal”. An intriguing concept but as seen in this play one which leaves more questions unanswered than answered and which becomes repetitive and drawn out.
The script does however provide for inventiveness and lots of physical action and under the direction of Nigel Edgecombe the cast do well in this regard, performing with boundless energy, so much so that at times the yelling becomes a bit much, each creating believable characters within the confines of the play and no doubt identifying with many of the underlying themes.
- The Dominion Post