Melbourne Fringe: Panic

Panic is a dramatisation of a short story written by Japanese novelist Kōbō Abe. It is a powerful, highly physical work that fuses strong action with a great text and narrative.


The story revolves around an unemployed man who is offered a very strange job: meet a certain someone at a bar – and get drunk with him. The panic comes in when the protagonist wakes up in a dark room lying next to a dead body.

Performed at Revolt, a cavernous space that lends a mysterious feel to the work, we encounter four tall towers of toilet paper, which stand in for various objects throughout the show. From telephones, to eyes, wallets and money – the toilet paper plays on the notion of a disposable society predicated on material items. In this way, Panic appears as a commentary on greed and desperation, questioning how far we are willing to go to survive, before it’s too late. By the end of the show, it also poses a particularly interesting alternative and surreal view on necessity of crime

Panic is performed in Cantonese, Japanese and English, with English subtitles projected into the space. The performers are incredibly dedicated to the work and the level of commitment during the performance is extreme, rendering the show extremely enjoyable with chilling, hilarious and beautiful images throughout the performance.

Overall the technical elements of the show were excellent. Including a good sound design and some extremely quirky costumes. It is a highly original show and a great piece to experience this fringe. Panic finishes on September 28, don’t miss out on this one.

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