Jen McArthur @ Adelaide College of the Arts – Stables
6:00pm, Wed 6 Mar 2013
After working with autistic children, Jen McArthur was inspired to create Echolalia in response to observing their issues with social engagement. In doing so, she manages to conjure up a character that possesses ticks that are all-too-identifiable to the OCD part of me.
Echo is a woman who – ostensibly – is preparing for a job interview, though some of her tasks and minutiae are mired in everyday chores. The set is her house, with various bits of furniture and props constantly being arranged just so. Occasionally Echo ventures into the audience to offer someone a biscuit – no, that one – but largely we are left to watch her try and get through her daily routine.
There’s tangible fear when the phone rings, and her job agent leaves a message; there’s distracted joy as she primps herself. Though largely a mute performance, there’s also musical and dance interludes that catch Echo’s attention before she forcibly drags herself back into focus; and there’s plenty of giggles for the audience, not at Echo but with her.
And that’s the thing about Echolalia – it’s a quirky and happy physical performance that is generally uplifting for the audience, without necessarily feeling insubstantial… and the fact that Echo’s character traits occasionally mirrored my own gave it an extra little bit of impact.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 6, 2013