Leo [FringeTIX]
Circle of Eleven @ The Garden of Unearthly Delights – The Vagabond
7:00pm, Fri 15 Feb 2013
Despite the huge effort being put into cooling the Vagabond, it was still stifling from the heat of the day; as the decent-sized crowd slowly filed in, there was much fanning by people already seated; from my position in the front row, I heard many laments from behind me about the decision to bring red wine instead of water into the venue.
In front of me, on the right-hand side of the stage, were two walls of a room assembled around a distinct patch of floor: three clearly-defined dimensions. A lightbulb sat at the end of a rod that extended into the “room” from the left; stage left was dominated by a large screen.
Toby Wegner purposefully strode into the room and lay on his side on the floor. The screen flickered to life; it showed the same scene of the room we were looking at, but from a different perspective; the camera has been rotated ninety degrees counter-clockwise, so Wegner’s body appeared to be standing. By supporting his body weight on one arm and “walking” up the wall, the screen shows him to be pacing up and down; it’s a disconcerting – and incredibly effective – visual trick, and as a result I’m constantly turning my head left and right to see the correlation between his actions and the result. There was a slight lag on the camera – it wasn’t significant, but just enough so that by the time you’d registered something on the screen that you wanted to see on the “stage”, the moment had already passed.
But the first thirty minutes of Leo were fantastic, with Wegner’s strength, physical control, and imagination creating a series of clever (and funny) sequences; the hip-hop piece, and the vaulting over his persistent suitcase, were standouts. But then he started sketching the interior of a house on the back wall – and, by all means, his drawing is wonderful – and when the screen started overlaying animations of the cat and bird and goldfish that he’d drawn, I started to feel a little distanced from the performance.
And as the screen became an undersea scene, with Wegner swimming through it, I became completely divorced. Where I had previously been keen to see what was next in store, I was now counting the seconds… I was clock-watching, waiting for this performance to be over. Even the big, bold, ominous, semi-industrial notes in the soundtrack during the final scenes failed to recapture my interest; my arse is numb from the uncomfortable front-row seat, and my neck is sore from looking back and forth.
For me, Leo is the poster-child argument for less-is-more; if the performance had ended at the thirty-minute mark, I’d have been singing its praises. After a long hour, however, all I feel like expressing is a lacklustre “meh”.