When his heart escapes his chest at the beginning of a first date, Scott Wings knows he can’t let it get away. He’s craving love and connection and he knows he won’t be able to find it without it. So, he chases his heart in, out and around his body, while trying desperately to keep himself together in front of his crush.
This is the premise of Whiplash, the latest solo work from local boy made good, Scott Wings. He has returned to town for the 2019 Anywhere Theatre Festival to showcase his award-winning show to Brissy crowds. So much more than your typical a solo-show, Whiplash is a deep dive into the essence and imagination of one Australia’s most original storytellers. Scott utilises every part of himself – his body, his words, his story and secrets – and blends this with his passion for sci-fi, super heroes and fantasy to takes us on a unique exploration of self. It is equal parts ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Labyrinth’ and a whole lot more.
Whiplash starts as a seemingly straightforward journey into how the disparate parts of Scott’s body battle for control on an awkward first date. Performing on a bare stage with just a stool, a music player and a whole lot of charm, Scott utilises every inch of the space and contorts his body into all manner of ways to take us with him on his hero’s journey in the search of his heart. Along the way we witness the eternal battle of brain versus penis, visit the control centre of the brain, learn the evolution dance and take a deep dive into the depths of his subconscious.
We meet all manner of characters throughout the show, with Scott embodying each of them fully. Every character has their own physicality and presence without the need for costumes or other artifice. Occasionally, I found the level of detail to be a little too much, as a few characters seemed to be quirky just for the sake of being quirky. However, on a whole it makes for a truly captivating performance. One scene in particular, a meeting between at least ten different versions of Scott at different ages, show cases his command of physical storytelling. I was never once lost in that scene. He captures us up in his boundless imagination and gives all of himself to the performance, drenched in sweat by the end of the show.
But Whiplash is so more than just a visual journey. Scott Wings is also a consummate storyteller and few people can turn a phrase like him. He mixes the physical theatre with spoken word, philosophy, comedy, psychology and a little bit of stupid to explore the heart of who he is and what makes him tick in the broader context of the world we live in. His view of the world and mastery of language are on display in Whiplash, and I am regularly moved throughout.
Unfortunately, the performance is let down slightly by the venue. One of the joys of the Anywhere Festival is the opportunity to see live performance in non-traditional venues, but it didn’t quite work for Whiplash. Concept in Fortitude Valley has event and function spaces attached to a bar, and minimal soundproofing. On the night of the show, the noise drinking into the room from the bar took me out of the piece in the initial stages of the show, but it’s a testament to Scott’s performance skills and command of the audience that I soon forgot about this and was submerged into the world of the performance.
In Whiplash, Scott Wings has created a thoughtful, funny and moving meditation on how to embrace all parts of yourself and what it is to be a man in 2019. The imagination and attention to detail that has gone into this piece is impressive and Scott’s commitment, performance skills and charm are a joy to behold. Highly recommended.
Ads J saw Whiplash on Sunday 19 May 2019. Whiplash plays at Concept, Fortitude Valley as a part of the 2019 Anywhere Theatre Festival until 26 May 2019.
Concept and Performer | Scott Wings