Adelaide Festival Theatre Review: Deluge

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 2.05.59 amPhoto Credit: Tiny Bricks

***COLLAGE’S Ed Bohdan and Tin Do’s review takes the form of Deluge’s unique overlapping communication between its characters.***

Ed: This reviewer has seen one too many cheap/crap Fringe Comedy shows where one is hastily shepherded to their seat by someone who looks like an extra from Gangs of New York.

Tin: Deluge takes the opposite tact by placing emphasis on dialogue over performance and a contemporary aesthetic, while still creating a generous amount of spectacle through the novel delivery of said dialogue and an innovative stage design.

Ed: The experience starts strongly by leading the audience into a dark warehouse space, attracted to a soft glow at the centre. A strong sense of procession slowly builds anticipation. At the centre lies a curious Perspex rectangular ‘pool’ containing foam cubes. The space is lit by a curvilinear frame made up of thousands of pulsating LED lights.

Tin: The overall effect wouldn’t look out of place at an OMA/Prada catwalk show, drawing on a similar ambience: the rawness and temporality of concrete, plastic and wires captures the pace of contemporary life and sets the stage for the performances to follow.

Ed: Deluge proves that abstraction need not be cryptic and ambiguity can lead to many modes of interpretation. The actors rise up out of the foam as the show begins, seemingly talking random thoughts to an unseen audience; a few of them converse with a partner, but all the ‘groups’ seem unrelated.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 2.06.48 amPhoto Credit: Tiny Bricks

Tin: The audience bears witness to seven distinctively Gen-Y conversations happening simultaneously – a teenage couple; a graduate student couple; two gamers; a Baha’i enthusiast preaching to an unseen audience; a man having a spiritual revelation; a transgender woman talking to a journalist and a woman shouting in a foreign language. A nice sense of ‘flatness’ is created as the actors speak over each other; at times the voices are dissonant and at others harmonising.

Ed: It makes you wonder about the actors’ connection is with each other.

Tin: The significance of superficial experiences is highlighted through contrast with life milestones and revelations, which are in turn downplayed in an almost existential way by the background noise. Key moments are punctuated by the preachier characters in the show, who occasionally took the opportunity to soapbox the themes explored in the show. These points of thematic clarity are slightly jarring however, as the overall experience of the show successfully presents contemporary existence as a palimpsest of thoughts and clutter, without having to be explicit – a way which was arguably also truer to the spirit of the content.

Ed: Does the foam represent a connecting medium? Is it grey matter, and the actors are the thoughts in a brain, and the led light frame the synapses and emotions?

Tin: By the end of the performance some narratives are resolved, while others end on cliffhanging highs. All the while the play is tied together by being emotionally consistent – all characters reach moments of tension and release at the same time, thereby giving the performance a discernable beginning, middle and end without ever tying it to a single narrator.  

Ed: Or are the actors just floating around in some cloud; random voices playing simultaneously around the world?

4 out of 5 stars

-Ed Bohdan and Tin Do

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