Yours the Face
Quiet Little Fox @ Tandanya – Firefly
6:30pm, Tue 25 Feb 2014
A new theatrical venue, Tandanya’s Firefly has a bit to offer a small audience; though it only seats around thirty people, most of the seating is somewhat elevated from the performance space… something rarely seen in Fringe-time. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of noise bleed from Grenfell Street and the opening night party in the Tandanya Gallery next door; thankfully, the performance was engaging enough for me to ignore the environmental distractions.
The stage is carefully backed by a collection of light diffusor umbrellas; into this space steps a lithe Roderick Cairns, who deftly flips between two characters: Peter, the renowned Australian photographer, and Emmy, the young (too young?) American supermodel. They’re both fish out of water in London – when we first meet Emmy, she’s struggling to write a postcard to her grandmother back in the US (painting in her backstory as she goes), and Peter spies her in a café before he learns that he’s supposed to work with her.
Their initial work together is stiff and awkward, though Emmy’s cool distance is eventually overcome by the flirtatious dance with Peter’s camera. As Peter and Emmy – each revered in their own way, each struggling for grounding in a life of transience – tumble into bed together, and deal with the awkward aftermath of the physicality, the connection – we sense – is doomed. But the portraits that Yours the Face paints of these two people is thick, rich, believable; there’s a hint of Lost In Translation to this relationship, but with quirky ennui replaced by a desperate, painful loneliness that eats away at the characters.
Whilst I haven’t always got along with productions bearing the Quiet Little Fox name, I’ve got oodles of time for writer Fleur Kilpatrick: she’s always willing to chat about her creations, and is nice enough to prod a nobody like me for opinions. And Yours the Face is, by far, my favourite of her works: the solo performance with two voices is an inspired decision (and possibly the most cutting – yet subtle! – comment on objectification at this year’s Fringe). And Cairns is wonderful in both roles; whilst the feminine anglings of his body when he portrays Emmy initially seem exaggerated, their consistency over the course of the performance assure me that it’s a conscious decision… or maybe that’s just how supermodels carry themselves.
But perhaps the saddest aspect of this performance was the fact that there were a mere five people in the audience this evening; Yours the Face deserved way better than that. It’s engaging and thought-provoking theatre that managed to unsettle me in the best possible way.
(Oh – and there was a significant chunk of nudity. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I distinctly remember thinking that I’ve seen way more penis this Fringe than feminine breast.)
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) February 25, 2014