Fringe World Perth 2012

Foul, bad, yellow things

0 Comments 31 January 2012

In the evening, the Treasury Mess Hall becomes a trove – a dewy oasis with a backyard vibe, wedged deep between old brick buildings.

It’s a real treat: merpeople swim in a moonlit tank, while the sounds of Serge Gainsbourg and Prince echo over grass that seems strangely lacking in plastic flamingoes.

Suitably, the creaking bowels of the hall are where The Yellow Wallpaper takes place. It’s based on an 1892 novella about a woman who, confined to one room, loses her mind and sees creeping figures.

This ghostly one person play crawls under the skin like an unwanted visitor.

It all begins when an unsettled housewife, played by Addison Axe, becomes fascinated with the “sickly sulfur” of yellow wallpaper in the house. Though the set does not include yellow wallpaper, its patterns are described in great detail by the unnamed woman. Likewise, her absent husband’s drone-like voice is evoked by passionately kissing a chair.

Along with the wallpaper, her mind and body begins to unravel. Or at the very least her clothes do. And, the audience is left to ponder, is she haunted or is she the parasite?

Axe succeeds at luring the audience into the dark realm where she is trapped.

At first, her personality is that of a sunny, chortling buttercup, and looks like something between Belle and the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. But, all is not as it seems – the clue is to watch the cuffs of her sleeves. Axe’s character is far more twisted and manic than previously seen in an adaptation of the play at the Blue Room Theatre last year.

As the props have been stripped back, the power in the monologues comes from the terror in Axe’s voice and the contortions of her face as the room slowly gets the better of her.

The production sits well in the Fringe World Festival 2012, with Axe’s twisted smile and filthy petticoat. It clearly seeks to exemplify the sweat, blood, tears and grime of the macabre Victorian era.

It’s amazing the amount of energy and perspiration generated by one woman and her few props.

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