Fringe World Perth 2016

Vladimir the Crow – Whispering Ghoul, Fringe World Perth 2016

0 Comments 25 January 2016

The seats are comfortable, the room is dark, and the music is haunting. The sound of howling winds, foghorns, and pounding rain surge around the audience.

Vladimir the Crow appears. At first you see only his contorted hand emerging from the wings. The music continues and the mood is set. As he shuffles slowly onto the stage, creeping voicelessly, the audience is already chuckling.

Paul Bourke’s new solo show Whispering Ghoul makes its premiere for this season of Fringe World Perth. Although Bourke’s character and the topic of the show are on the darker side, the piece is performed with a light, almost ludicrous sense of fun. Bourke hails from a range of renowned theatre schools including The Ecole Philippe Gaulier in Paris, the results of which are clear in his spirited performance.

As Vladimir, Bourke is amusing from the outset; miming almost incomprehensibly before emitting ghostly ‘Oooo’ sounds until the audience joins him. Sure, he looks a little spooky with his black eyeliner and pale complexion, and the vast array of terrifying noises he makes is impressive; but he is also humble, and rather sweet. You get the sense that Vladimir likes the human audience, and really does want to please them. He also wants to celebrate his realm of ghosts and monsters, reflect on human fragility and share his observations on both the light and darkness to be found in the world.

A crash course in gothic horror, Bourke finds a deft balance between comedic and terrifying.  However, the story itself comes across as disjointed, and was – on the night I saw it – occasionally let down by lighting issues.

A testament to his acting skills, Bourke’s masterful embodiment of his character makes up for these shortcomings. The show’s highlight is when he assumes the identity of other resident spirits as a medium, supported by some starkly terrifying audio engineering.

While there is a high level of interaction with the audience, Vladimir the Crow is surprisingly approachable for such a dark character. As he lurches, mimes and unnerves, the audience is alive with laughter. He doesn’t steal your soul; he steals your heart.

Vladimir the Crow – Whispering Ghoul runs from January 27-30 in the Laksa Lounge at Noodle Palace on Francis Street, Perth. Tickets available via www.fringeworld.com.au

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