The Lounge Room Confabulators [FringeTIX]
Stuart Bowden & Wil Greenway @ Fringe Office
8:00pm, Tue 15 Feb 2011
So there I was, poring over the Shortlist, trying to roughly fit together a plan for Tuesday night, when an e-mail from the Fringe office pops into my Inbox:
Are you interested in coming to a Loungeroom Confabulators preview on Tuesday, February 15 at 8pm, at the Fringe office, 105 Hindley St?
Let me know if you can come along, should be fun. The show is completely sold out, so this is the only chance you’ll get to review it.
Suddenly, use of the word “review” notwithstanding, I had a plan for Tuesday night.
I roll up at the prescribed time, and there’s a collection of somewhat familiar faces in the dozen-or-so non-Fringe people there; I start thinking that this is a media preview… you know, for all the ‘Tiser and Adelaide Review and street mags to see the show, to write about it… and there I was, too.
What a curious turn of events.
Michelle brings a couple of glasses of wine downstairs – the red is delicious. There’s a knock at the door – “Pete, can you get that?” Michelle calls. Sure – I open the door, and there’s nothing there but a small woven blanket or mat, neatly folded on the ground. I pick it up; there’s a note attached.
The mat’s name is, apparently, Keith (or was it Kevin?).
I close the door, offering the mat to Michelle – I’m assuming she’s the Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening – but she insists that I hang onto it. “You do it,” she says, gesturing me to the space where everyone has gathered downstairs in the Fringe Office.
It’s then I realise that there’s more written on the note; I unfold it and read it outloud. It’s neatly handwritten, but the odd word is absent, causing me to stumble – how embarrassing! – but it explains that the mat… er, Keith is to be unfolded into the centre of the space, and room left for Keith’s friends.
The mat is laid out, and there’s a bit of an awkward wait – some nervous smiles between the assembled throng, but no chatter at all – before a quiet tap at the door sees one of the Fringe staffers let two grinning gentlemen in – one carrying a guitar, the other a suitcase. Alexander and Finn find Keith, cajole the seating arrangements somewhat, and introduce themselves with a simple explanation: two men, cursed by a suitcase, destined to spend their days wandering around, telling stories.
And, they warn us, “all the endings are shit.”
Their story comes in fragments, chopped up in a chronological blender. The two orphaned boys, the mansion with the mouse problem, the flatulent wombat, Rose the Midnight Gardener, the drunk caught in a Groundhog Day-esque nightmare… each little story snippet, in itself entertaining and (more often than not) capped with a “shit ending”, eventually forms part of a cohesive whole. It’s twisted and convoluted, but oh-so-satisfying.
The two men animate their tale with bits of flotsam from their suitcase; small toys and dioramas and little shadow-puppets. There’s a few beautiful songs, quietly performed on guitar and ukelele, the last of which sees Finn quietly pack the suitcase up again. The men wave a gentle goodbye and slip outside.
We applaud, expecting them to come back in to take a bow. They do not. We thank the Fringe staff for the use of their office; a couple of people immediately take their leave. A brief chat, many more heartfelt thankyous, and I’m off, too – heading to the next show.
There was something really sweet about the Confabulators; their storytelling, wide-eyed and earnest, had an innocent feel. Sure, the humour got a little potty-ish, which doesn’t really gel with the lyrical nature of the rest of the performance; but this was a charming performance, and one that I’m chuffed to have experienced.
Thanks, Michelle :)