Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review: The Rat Trap; Polytoxic; Bille Brown Studio, Brisbane

The Rat Trap

First and foremost it is essential to suspend disbelief when you walk
through the doors into the space for this production! This show is a
little like a Salvador Dali painting meeting a novel written by Paulo
Coehlo and Gabriella Garcia Marquez; that probably should be taking
place in Montmarte in France. I think I was unexpectedly prepared by
watching Midnight in Paris this afternoon before attending!

The programme is a must read for having some idea for what is about to
transpire when you go to see this show. It is a beautiful melding of
traditional pacific islander / cabaret / circus and burlesque; that
without the programme makes absolutely no sense; which for the
audience is a strength (if you read the programme) or a weakess (if
you do not).

The story begins with half man half woman; JanUri (Fez Fa'anana) who
sets the scene of a seedy and divey tiki bar somewhere. We are then
introduced to the no longer conjoined Siamese Twins (Lisa Fa'alafi and
Leah Shelton); who are suffering "serious seperation issues"; thanks
programme you're a lifesaver!! We are led into a confusing but
alluring tale of debauchery with amazing circus feats stirred into it.

Natano Fa'anana plays the somewhat estranged father or the girls and
his grumpy busboy is a highlight of the show. It all makes sense when
you read that he is a "blackbird in hiding and the last of the now
defunct slave trade". This is what polytoxic does very well indeed;
the melding of the traditional into the modern. Referencing ancient
culture with quirky, lovely modern takes on traditional pacific
islander dance. These little asides were quite wonderful and it would
have been nice to see more of them!

If you want a good clean narrative I would not recommend this show.
If you want to be wowed by clever circus mixed into surreal magic
realism it's the show for you! The lighting is subtle and dingy;
beautifully suiting the story and I was impressed Andrew Meadows
managed to put an antique Paton 125 to good use lighting this show.
Another highight was the scene towards the end where we get to see the
riggers highlighted not as invisibles but as participants in the
magic; this breaking down of the fifth wall has long been an interest
of mine in theatre. Go see it; if only to have a night of it in South
Brisbane ; the Joynt down the road is bound to be pumping after and
you can really make a night of it!

3.5 stars.

Nim Jayawardhana for Artshub (


At Thu May 17, 06:43:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nim, I've heard of the fourth wall, what's the fifth wall and the context to this show? Sounds interesting.

At Wed May 30, 02:51:00 AM PDT, Blogger Nim said...

it's something I first coined in 1999 with my play "Road Toll" for the Darwin Fringe Festival; it's when the techs become part of the show; I operated and designed lights for my play but also did a voiceover live during the performance.

At Wed May 30, 02:54:00 AM PDT, Blogger Nim said...

in this show there were some points where the performers were flown in the air and the riggers were lit and were seen and acknowledged by the audience.

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