The Well (Redux)
The Well Collective and Monash Uni Student Theatre @ Tandanya – Firefly
9:30pm, Wed 26 Feb 2014
So – it’s time to preserve my memories about The Well (Redux), and I’ve kinda been looking forward to this bit of writing… and I’m sorta terrified of it, too.
Because it was, without a doubt, the strangest theatrical experience of the season… but also, by far, the most invigorating. And it was awesome.
But, with regards to the text of the performance, I had no idea what was going on… but more about that later.
As we walked into Firefly, it’s hard not to be taken aback: with the exception of a few large blocks scattered throughout, the venue was empty. We’re encouraged to leave out bags at the door, and were told that we can move where we like throughout the performance… and straight away, I was reminded of Stau.
And that is a very, very good thing.
The cast (of ten) were already slowly circulating in the room, and – with the burbling amongst the audience hushing with an expectant closure of the door to the venue – they leap into weird tale. And I literally mean leap: the show opens as one member leapt onto one of the blocks and launched into the opening monologue. As they float around the space, the cast will engage in short scenes wherever they happen to stand; other members may gather around them, or just yell their lines from the other side of the room; the entire production has a very organic feel. There are undoubtedly a few set pieces, but they feel in the minority; it feels like performances from night to night would be affected by the movements of the audience.
And how liberating it was to wander freely throughout the production! As with the aforementioned Stau, I found myself seeking counter-crowd angles, trying to see the performance from an unexpected point of view. On a few occasions I was gently guided back into the fold by a cast member, but much of the time I directed my own play.
As for the content… well, it was fucking mental. There’s two threads (I think): one that follows the flight of Montezuma, and the other a modern-day apocalypse scenario caused by a flipping of the Earth’s magnetic poles. There’s a couple of constant characters: a farmer, a mother and daughter, and Gareth, who hits the daughter with his car after her mother throws her into traffic. The narrative is broken into many segments, told in a seemingly random order… though the exposition of an angel hitting the Earth (complete with a sparkly confetti snow-angel on the floor) is a fantastic denouement.
The ten cast members exhibit wonderful control, though they tend to stick to the two extremes of loud-and-brash and quiet-and-earnest… but it all totally works, and their physical corralling of the audience feels almost natural. And the complete mindfuck of a text revels in the presentation… and, as a result, I walked out of The Well (Redux) breathless, my mind awash with possibilities.
And that, as I mentioned above, was awesome.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) February 26, 2014