[2015050] The Fifth Horseman

[2015050] The Fifth Horseman

Poor Paw @ The Crown and Anchor Hotel

6:00pm, Fri 20 Feb 2015

So I’m trying to figure out the Schedule and there’s this interesting sounding theatre piece that’s on at the Cranka for three nights and it calls itself “grim” and that’s enticing and I’m thinking about it and then I get a charming email from a member of the company asking me to come along and I think “hey that’s nice!” so I fire off my usual “I don’t do comps” message and go straight to FringeTIX to lock it in.

That’s pretty much how my Fringe planning works, only (usually) without all the friendly emails.

And so I find myself at the Cranka at 6pm on a Friday night… and pre-sales are about what I’d expect for this timeslot (i.e. few), and walk-ups are about what I’d expect for a Friday night (i.e. fewer). And that makes me sad, because Sam – that’s the chap from Poor Paw who contacted me – had mentioned that they were from Brisbane, and I always start feeling sorry for people who pack their hopes and dreams into a suitcase and fly halfway across the country for a long weekend to try and make a go of it in the choc-a-bloc Fringe programme only to wind up with an audience of about ten people at one of your three performances.


A dark and moody opening heightens my curiosity – what do I expect as I watch two black-clad shadows slink across the murky stage, guided by torchlight? – until the torch is dropped, there’s a quiet profanity from one of the shadows, and the comical tone is established. From there, The Fifth Horseman weaves a (frankly) incomprehensible tale that seemed to revolve around the reclamation of a $16.21 Avon debt… but there’s also a dead cat, more dubious door-to-door sales techniques, and a shitload of gothic face paint and costuming.

And laughs, let’s not forget the laughs. And some apocalypse or other.

Despite not clearly figuring out what was going on, I was genuinely entertained by the ramshackle antics of the protagonists, Gavin and Ripley; they’re constantly breaking the fourth wall (without making the practice feel too undergraduate), and there’s a delicious ascension in the final act before tumbling – pleasingly! – into a hot mess of a denouement. This may have been one of those I-don’t-know-what-I-just-saw-but-it-pleased-me kind of shows, but that’s just fine by me.

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