As ever, I am struck by the mechanical infrastructure, the bones of this old building, layered with the battered truss, everything so useful, so necessary for this modern spectacle. It’s early, a 6pm showing, the room doesn’t quite darken, we see chefs working above and to our right, the odd person wandering levels above us. It’s a nice juxtaposition. It suits this little post-apocalyptic number, an ensemble production from the hard-working young acrobats of Flipside Circus.
They tumble onto the stage, a gang of thieves, a motley crew, a pack of energetic youth, in a futuristic set that reminds me of shades of Tankgirl, or Waterworld, or even Mad Max – all films way too old for any of the performers to have ever seen! It feels like a pirate ship, perhaps a scene from a dystopian Atwood novel, pieces of eskies repurposed, an old spray-painted couch. There’s seven, or nine, or ten of them, they jump around with fearless candour, popping in and out of their makeshift cabins, clad in raggedy odds’n’ends. Sliding into hidden spaces, emerging with a new re-fashioned prop. They work well together, an ensemble, in the true sense of the word; all of the parts taken together.
There’s a bounty a goodness in this show. A striking trapeze routine… a fisher-girl who is a natural karaoke queen with a penchant for comedic timing…a strong hand balancing act that belies years of training for one so young…a young woman with an incredible voice, singing whilst she balances precariously on a young man…a lyra routine performed on a giant truck tyre. There is a cool and fluid hula-hoop routine with a innertube tyre that is particularly eye-catching – they are tricks that have been seen before, but somehow the black tube changes them, reshapes them.
There’s a premise, a strong message behind this clever show. Fishing in the sea, all they catch is litter. It starts to rain, but from the sky falls only supermarket shopping bags, their grey billowing forms filled with such gentle grace, it almost hurts to think how destructive they can be. This show is full of energetic youngsters bounding and joyful, but the story is a painful one; it leaves a great sadness. What are we doing to this beautiful world, where we make toys out of oil, disposable nothings. It’s all the more poignant for being told to us by our youth; they will have to deal with our consequences, after all.
Kudos to this motley cast and crew. There is a kind of assumption, the same brush that taints ‘community’ theatre, that youth works will not be artistically strong. But those naysayers would be wrong. This is a strong offering, with artistic integrity, and we will see plenty of these young faces grace our stages in years to come.
Wasteland was performed at the Brisbane Powerhouse as part of the Wonderland Festival.
Creative Director Chelsea McGuffin
Performed by Alana L., Eva H., Indigo M., Indra G., Jedda B., Kelsey B., Luke W., Mia H., Nina O., Tula H., Victoria M., Zebedee D., Oscar M.
Dramaturge Robert Kronk
Head trainer Aliya Abisheva
Trainer Davy Sampford
Design Josh McIntosh
Photographer Credit Stephen Edwards