THE EXISTENTIALISTS SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR AUSTRALIA
Clarence Street Theatre, Hamilton
09/03/2016 - 10/03/2016
A guide to life on an Ozzi shore! A uniquely German perspective on love, sex, death and everything in between.
This show includes comical and often embarrassing stories she encountered while learning to read Straya’s surprisingly sophisticated system of veiled messages and hidden clues.
Navigating those social conventions required a level of awareness, nuance and finesse for which she was completely unprepared…
Clarence St Theatre, 59 Clarence St, Hamilton
7:30pm Wed 9th, Thurs 10th
$20 / $16
Theatre , Spoken word , Solo ,
Doesn’t quite gel
Review by Ross MacLeod 10th Mar 2016
This is a hard piece of performance to define. I find it an amalgam of a casual conversation, a lecture and stand-up comedy. It doesn’t quite smoothly fit into any of these and I can’t help but feel the work would be stronger if it chose one.
The material comes from observations and anecdotes from Russya Connor on being a German who moved to Western Australia. There’s some mention of the Existentialism in the title but the philosophical side of things never materialises to the level implied earlier on.
Where the show works well is the frank discussion of some of the more repressed attitudes that Australia displays in contrast with the more open European culture. The conversational stoicism and avoidance of uncomfortable topics is something that can refer equally well to New Zealand and there are more than a few voices among the audience in agreement with the honest truths of her observations.
The anecdotes and points of interest all feel heartfelt and there is a definite casual openness that Connor displays but I wonder if they would work better in book form than on stage. This casual feel would be great in a conversation but in a performance setting it feels more unfocussed.
As I said in the opening, I think as a performance piece The Existentialist’s Survival Guide needs to refine its style a bit more. It lacks the format of a conversation, the pace and gags of stand-up comedy and the informational detail of a lecture. Had it picked any two of these it might have felt smoother but it feels stretched thin between all three.
It is engaging enough; the hour flies by without dragging but never really hooks us in. There are some interesting moments and some solid observations but the overall package doesn’t quite gel into the sharp performance potential I feel exists within the material and personality on stage.
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