Review of Perth Theatre Company’s return to the Edinburgh fringe
WORDS: SAMUEL FRY
Back in Edinburgh following a huge amount of success two years ago, there was a lot of pressure on Perth Theatre Company to live up to the hype. What did Samuel Fry think of this year’s Edinburgh show?
It’s Dark Outside places its audience in a world of lost memories and murky shadows. Yet, the play’s fusion of lights, animation, puppetry, shadows and music make this one of the most vibrant shows on display at this year’s Fringe.
The Perth Theatre Company returned to Edinburgh this year, two years after their multi-award winning production The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer. They had quite a challenge on their hands as they tried to match their 2011 show, described by one reviewer as “so inventive, so utterly magical, that it’s simply impossible to capture the experience with words alone.”
This year’s production was just as magical.
It would be fair to say that the play isn’t exactly the “grand epic western” that is described on their posters. Instead, it is a production full of full of wonder. The story explores an old man’ dementia; wandering through the wilderness alongside his companion, a galloping tent, he is pursued by a mysterious tracker. The Western theme itself is a bit of a diversion. Yet, Ariella Gray explains that they used the theme to explore the idea of “The Wild”. So the Spaghetti Western imagery is simply used to demonstrate the “wild,” “rough landscape” that surrounds the protagonist.
The really impressing thing about this production is the way it smoothly transitions from one technology to another. The play shifts from the intricate puppetry of one scene, through an animation and on to a display of shadows without losing the audience’s attention or understanding. A floating cotton wool cloud hovers through the sky in the puppetry scene and is easily identified in the animation that follows. That is quite an achievement.
I absolutely loved it and was gripped throughout. Having spoken to Tim Watts, Co-Creator, after the play, he explained that they hoped that this would leave his audience with “A whole sense of enjoyment. Not just smiling for an hour, but something deeper.” This was just the effect that it had on me. I left feeling, not just watching, a sense of wonder.
My interview with the team behind the production opened my eyes to the extent of invention in this production. Not only are they continuously exploring new technologies, they even developed their own computer to run the lighting for the show.
Unfortunately, I only caught the tail-end of their run in Edinburgh; yet, I would encourage anyone to keep an eye out for their future tours. Who knows what will be next!
Created and performed by Tim Watts, Arielle Gray and Chris Isaacs, this exploration of dementia was a Perth Theatre Company production. For more information and future performances see: www.perththeatre.com.au