Bodysnatchers @ Adelaide College of the Arts – Main Theatre
6:30pm, Fri 24 Feb 2012
The Main Theatre at ACA, a wonderfully wide open affair, plays home to a tiny box for Gobbledygook – a square, with sides of only three or four metres, is defined by the long curtains that fall onto it from their supporting frame. How odd, I thought, to walk into such a large venue, only to have your attention focussed onto a mere fragment of it.
But maybe that’s the point. Maybe that’s analogous to the content of the piece.
As Aileen Huynh purposely strides from the darkness, peeling two curtains aside to allow us ocular access, we see the iPhone laying in the centre of the square. It rings; half the audience check their own pockets. She answers… and so begins the narrative of Gobbledygook.
…but it’s not much of a narrative. The piece is more a selection of disconnected scenes, with no noticeable progression between them, all relating to Aileen’s relationship with her iPhone. You get the feeling early on, as she discusses home deliveries of food and wine to the unknown caller at the other end of the phone, that she’s agoraphobic; some conversations, such as those with the wine salesperson, border on the desperate. There’s a hint of sadness in those conversations, but that emotion isn’t allowed to fester within the audience as she throws in some full-body Fruit Ninja playing, desperate dashes for the recharger, or records half-conversations with herself so she has someone to talk to.
Dragging in a sleeping bag and building a fort within it only exacerbates the feeling of physical disconnection with the outside world; the phone call with her parents (father long-suffering, mother aggressively disappointed) fleshes Aileen’s character out a bit more.
There’s some gorgeous lighting, utilising the curtains as surfaces to softly radiate emotive shades (and the opportunity for some lovely shadow-play), but other than that the staging is simple. Frugal, even. But the disconnected nature of the scenes doesn’t allow anything really sophisticated to develop… whilst Aileen’s character’s episodes are entertaining and – yes – even familiar, when I walked out of ACA after the performance I didn’t really take much of her with me.