Adelaide Fringe: MONO

MONO-. Photograph by Sarah Walker
MONO-. Photograph by Sarah Walker

There is not as much performance art around now-days as there was in the 80s /90s. So it’s a great surprise to strike this unique and out-there piece which encapsulates the sometimes undefinable form with a risky and innovative edge. It’s Fringe… and I relish the totally experimental amongst the rest of the fare.

It’s possible to love and hate this show, at the same time. (I did). And in some ways, that’s exactly the point. The talented team do not make the experience of watching this work a light and/or easy fun time. They have created and delivered an edgy, strong new work – obsessive in its nature, gothic in its gruesome feel and absurdist in it’s over the top and odd-ball style.

Initially, we are lined up at the stairs and kept waiting forever (intentionally maybe; I’m not too sure), and then led around by a guide to experience this strange event. Upstairs into hazy, smoke machined red and blue rooms (take note: very offensive to those who hate breathing in smoky crap). We watch a white-faced harlequin-like actor in a hallway recite a bleak mad piece about lost love and loneliness. We view from a distance a man and woman loving and then fighting in an upstairs room. We look down on some guy shovelling dirt in the rain and then view from above three (excellent) female dancers; like black widows, beautifully choreographed in their long gowns and veils. And then we move on to sit and watch a series of linked performances, staged in a stunning white box set: A painted white man fanatical about his little boxes, a dangerous lurking woman in black, the three widows coming and going; blood, nakedness, pain and delight thrown at us; repetitive, confronting, overly long and uncomfortable in parts… but at times, very beautiful indeed.

[pull_left] This is a fascinating, challenging promenade experience through the massive shell of the ghost-town like warehouse[/pull_left]

This is an unusual ride: The narrative journey and characters inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s work, but while the performances and direction are (mainly) very good, it is difficult to follow what’s actually going on. But that’s ok in MONO-. This is one to let flow over you, take what’s thrown, drink in its weird flavour and delight in the amazing light, projection installation design. I grabbed on to some themes (that were there for me): the discontent of humanity, lost love, the decaying of the body and civilisation and the ridiculous joke that monogamy and fidelity is. It is a mono journey (whatever that means) that we are on in this case?

If it’s a performance art extravaganza that you want, you have got it with MONO-! This is a fascinating, challenging promenade experience through the massive shell of the ghost-town like warehouse – Bowden plant 4.  The venue is perfect for this work, and this show must have been made to measure for this space; or else the ideas adapted and rehearsed into the space.

Love it, hate it, or not too sure about it: It’s a strange, emotive, thought-provoking piece to see.

Stephen House

Stephen is a writer with numerous plays, exhibitions and short films produced. He has been commissioned often and directs and performs his work. He has won two AWGIE Awards from The Australian Writers Guild and an Adelaide Fringe Award (as well as more), and has received several international literature residencies. Stephen has been Artistic Director of many events. He has been performing his acclaimed solo show, “Appalling Behaviour” nationally from 2010 – 2014 (100 shows to date). Stephen has 2 new works in development.

Stephen House

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