A View of Concrete
Binka Boo Productions @ Queens Theatre (The Big Room)
9:15pm, Fri 20 Mar 2009
So I arrive at the Queens Theatre branch of the Fringe Factory half-an-hour early. I type up some notes and memories from the previous show, then start browsing the flyers sitting atop the half-barrels next to the unpatronised bar. I pick up a postcard for After the End and read “set in a nuclear shelter following a terrorist attack in London”… the words stick on a burr in my brain. The doors to The Big Room open, and as the crowd of about fifty – not bad for a Clipsal Friday night, I reckon – are let into the space, the staff warn us: “this show contains mature language, drug use, and simulations of sex.”
“No shit,” I retort in my own mind, “isn’t that what the Fringe is all about?”
I feel all smug for a moment before realising that (a) no-one else heard my comment, and (2) it’s a stupid thing to say anyway.
So A View of Concrete starts, and the jacaranda-laden opening soliloquy has me a mite confused: Jacarandas? In London? Aren’t they native to the southern hemisphere? Never mind, perhaps there’s a point to be made. Hang on, though, that lass sounds a bit ocker. I mean, she’s not even trying to get a pommie accent together.
As another three characters are introduced, I’m increasingly confused: where’s the nuclear blast? Is that room supposed to be a fallout bunker?
It’s a good five minutes into the performance before I realise that I’m not actually seeing After the End at all, that this is a different show, and that I’m clearly mixing inputs, burnt out. I suddenly feel that whirling sensation you get when you think you’re moving in one direction, but then you pass a landmark and realise you’re travelling in completely the opposite direction. Disoriented, I realise that I’m now hopelessly lost; I have no idea who these characters are, can’t remember a single thing about the premise behind this performance, and am mentally flailing.
So – why did I bother writing the above? The answer is quite simple, really; it’s because that memory, of disconcerting realisation of my own failings, is a far nicer memory than that of the performance itself.
Yes, there was the occassional nice video projection used to create texture on the perfunctory junk upon the stage. But the tale of urban alienation and self-destruction (more drug-references ahoy – it was like I never left Dead Jim behind), coupled with overly protracted shouty hysterics, felt like annoying white noise. And, as a result, I spent much of the performance hoping that this blunt message (loudly delivered, with no subtlety) would be the closing line.
And, y’know, that’s not much of a recommendation, is it?