Fringe Talk Day Thirty

What Are We + the final fringe night - Saturday 30th September

My final experience of the festival takes place at the Factory Theatre, on an evening flush with crowds of punters pouring from venue to venue as everyone crams in their final shows for the month. This could be a time-lapse video of the entire month of September, the flurry of audiences all over Sydney’s venues, supporting the works of their neighbours and visitors in this scattered city night after night.

It has been quite the privilege being involved in the Fringe this year as part of the Fringe Talk team. All eight of us have found ourselves engaging in events, performances and exhibitions beyond our normal horizons – from samba to shibari, immersive crime scenes to paper children, music festivals to intimate clown shows,– the Fringe has shown us a broad gamut of human experience. And in writing about these experiences we’ve had the advantage over other audiences in that we’ve been forced to sit down and talk at length about each event afterwards, not simply to discuss whether or not it was good (which is never really a question worth asking), but to probe what these varied artists are doing and how we who watch respond.

Tonight, rather than covering a show strictly for the Fringe I’m out supporting friends, seeing sketch comedy trio What Are We’s debut show Here We Are!.

There is much love packed into the Terminal space for the three performers, Belinda Anderson-Hunt, Jadzea Allen and Concetta Caristo, and their work, and while I’m biased for being part of the cheer pack, it is energising to be part of an audience that wishes so much good will for the show ahead. Again, I imagine this echoed in venues all around Sydney, on every night of September: the cultural life of our city isn’t just what happens on stages, but is to be counted too among every buttcheek on every seat.

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What Are We is very much on point as the title of this outfit. Sketch shows by their definition are fluid, proposals coming thick and fast, but what grabs me tonight is the beautiful absurdity of 180 shifts written into the sketches. Often the absurd shifts are played out in the physical, with bodies smashed into walls, launched through the audience and exploded in slow motion; so too is absurdity found in simple plays against the expectation of traditional theatre conventions (such as providing sheets to cover an audience in case of being sprayed).

I leave the show in a bouncy, hyperactive mood, eager to comically throw myself into a wall or cry blood at bemused strangers.

It’s exciting to think of where this group will go, how their form will evolve and extend upon the promise of Here We Are! in the years to come. The same can be said of many works in this Fringe, as the openness of these festivals gives space for so many new ideas to be tested, strengthened and sent out into the wider world.

At the end of the 2017 Sydney Fringe Festival, time leaps forward and the clocks change. And with that non-sequitur (but hopefully poignant) observation, here too ends the daily Fringe Talk updates for this year. Stay tuned for the sequel that is 2018.

Written by James Dalton