Fringe World Perth 2016

Thaw: A Science Fiction Play, Fringe World Perth 2016

0 Comments 30 January 2016

THEATRE

Nexus Theatre 

30 January 2016

Review by Jessica Clausen

Science fiction is a very particular genre which although appears in many artistic forms, tends to generate a select but dedicated fan-base. Dramatizing this genre’s otherworldliness as a theatre production was, I felt, bound to be interesting.

Thaw: A Science Fiction Play develops its plot around seven characters who wake up together in an empty science building. They have no direction, no knowledge of what year it is, and no one to help them. The group work together to find out what has happened, meanwhile discovering – and somewhat predictably – shocking truths about one another along the way.

It is rare to find science fiction in the realm of theatre. Perhaps because the genre is so typically dependent on story and setting, producing this through character and movement alone left a near-impossible task for a relatively low-budget show. The crew and creators of Thaw gave themselves the challenge; but their efforts were, ultimately, a little underwhelming.

To give due credit, the setting is impressive – a true-to-life imagination of a science building, featuring computer screens, machines with complicated buttons and switches, and an uncomfortably monochrome colour scheme that gives off a sterilized, distant feeling. Across the stage are large globes of dim fluorescent lighting, complimented with monotone music eerily falling in and out of scenes. This external mood is done well and prefaces the curious story perfectly.

For the most part too, the seven actors play their character parts impressively. James was a self-absorbed and insensitive brat, Christmas John’s worryingly jovial nature and brilliant laugh felt almost genuine, and the portrayal of the doctor as a well-mannered, proper individual with a self-inflicted sense of both responsibility and superiority was oh-so-reminiscent of the Dr Watson type.

Yet at times, and more often than once, there seemed to lack a certain energy in the room. It kept me distancing myself, losing my attention, and being unable to immerse myself fully. The interactions between each performer were dry, and the delivery of jokes felt particularly awkward and bland. For me, it felt as if each performer had spent a long time rehearsing and perfecting their lines, timing and blocking, but very little working on their emotional contact with their peers. The lasting awkwardness continually reminded me that I wasn’t seeing a story unfold, but watching actors play a story.

With a fairly traditional sci-fi premise, audiences were thrown into a world they knew nothing of, with dialogue and setting our only clues to figuring it out. But a rushed plot and a dry delivery left me feeling like this kind of science fiction, and this kind of theatre, just didn’t hit it off.

Thaw: A Science Fiction Play runs from January 27-30 at the Nexus Theatre in Murdoch University. Tickets available here.

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