Avoid – Sydney Fringe Festival

 Avoid is a original musical in every sense of the word encapsulating the nightclub scene in a truly holistic experience.

 Sydney Fringe FestivalVenue: The Midnight Shift Friday, 16th September, 2011
AvoidAvoid is a original musical in every sense of the word encapsulating the nightclub scene in a truly holistic experience. Performed in one of Oxford streets famous venues – the Midnight Shift in the upstairs bar – the audience are immediately thrust into the world of the characters we are soon to meet. Looking around you may or may not realise that they are already among you. We follow the night of drinking, dancing and drama of several couples at the club and we get glimpses of their past, present, and possible futures. Introducing the characters is the DJ who believes he can lead them where he wants with his powerful music, and you tend to believe him. The characters are not only right up close and personal, but they are next to you and behind you and you are constantly in the middle of their interactions as they provocatively pump and grind it right before your eyes. It certainly does feel that these are real people in the club with you but you’re actually getting to see and hear what they are doing. Occasionally you make eye contact with them and feel like communicating how you feel about what you are hearing and seeing happen to them. The cast are absolutely brilliant in their commitment to the piece and their characters, they possess incredible talent in vocals and dance but it is their strength in the interaction with each other that really engages you into their performances. Sadly there were no programs, the Sydney Fringe website lists the cast but not who was who, but luckily Facebook saves the day and I am able to highlight the standouts of the night.  Kurt Phelan showed great depth of character including a brilliant scene with Justin Clausen who was equally successful at finding many levels to what could have been a stereotypical gay character. Rachel Alford took her character on a journey of experimentation with drugs and the effects it has on her and the choices she then makes. The clear stand-out above all was Sam Anderson as his character tries everything possible to end his loneliness, but in the end finding his choices on the night all go against him. Overall the vocals for the show were impressive in a score that really stretched their ranges and abilities. The choreography was minimal but effective and allowed the characters individual expressions to emerge and the cast were more than up to the task displaying some very impressive moves. This project is David Peake’s brain child and he has really produced a very realistic yet heightened snapshot of the nightclub scene and how many turns one evening can take with minor and major encounters.  The only real disappointment was the small number of audience present to watch this highly energised production and the piece really needs a full house to fully breath as a real nightclub. I would love to see the difference this makes to the performance and how much more grows from a rowdier, fuller audience. There were some scenes that were not easily viewed from all seats and you did feel a bit detatched from these moments. As most nightclubs have screens showing video clips, it may not have been out of place to see these scenes onscreen as well, perhaps done with a handycam to keep the realistic effect.  I also felt the use of monologues did not seem to play well by the characters in the club, as the DJ speaks to the audience to tell the story it felt rather strange for the characters to then address the audience as well, and i believe it would be more suitable to have these presented to other characters within the piece. But overall i was thoroughly impressed with the production value and the fabulous cast and it truly is an event in the Sydney Fringe Festival that should not be missed. Final show is tonight, Sunday 18th September and it really deserves a full house and a pumping crowd for its last showing. 

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