It’s a hodgepodge of talent; a wellspring of performers new and old; a bricolage that whams together in one show circus, theatre, contemporary dance and (in Thursday’s performance at least) kale. Only one rules applies: each act must be under 600 seconds. Ten minutes guys. 600 seconds is ten minutes. Guys, it’s basic maths.
The show is just another from the Blue Room Theatre’s Summer Night’s production series running this Perth Fringe World, as it has done for many previous ones, to great success. The format resembles both suspiciously and enticingly those ‘mystery bags’ you found yourself always drawn to as a kid. Sometimes what was inside would be crummy; others times it would be filled with only some crummy stuff, and the rest would contain magical items you treasured in your memory always. For 600 Seconds, the analogy holds.
The line-up rotates every week, but last week’s show had acts so contrasting, it was if the entire Fringe had been put in a blender, condensed, cut up, and then offered as an unusual sampler. I’ll be honest here: I missed the first 600 seconds. This was because the roads were slick with wet, and also because I’m shit.
I scuttled to my seat with the torchlight of a Wes Anderson character lookalike Blue Room attendant, into the second act and my opener. In heart-rending monologue, Irma McCullen told the story of her paraplegic son, and how it took just one moment to change his life and hers forever. In the background, a young girl folded paper cranes, danced and quietly sat, hands folded.
The ever-present reality of this mother’s pain was put to us in raw, unfiltered form. She commanded us to recognise this; and to recognise too the strength of her son, undespairing despite his new fate. Frankly, the next act – a squeamish comedy horror about a hired baby murderer – felt pretty poor taste as a follow-up.
A wordless, blue-eyed balloon man (Louis Spencer) lifted spirits though, and a contemporary dance duo simulating the anxiety-driven ecstasies and torments of modern love was something else entirely.
But it was Mariah O’Dea’s final piece #thenewme that truly lifted the 600 Seconds game. Embodying a perky, vapid and very lost fitness junkie to perfection, O’Dea killed it with her deeply funny satire on the toxicity of the mainstream health and wellness lifestyle, so capable of building women’s abdominal cores and crippling their sense of self. Sending five stars this outstanding performer’s way, and may we witness her anew in a full-length show soon.
Serving up a medley of consumable segments, 600 Seconds is for chance-takers without the time to explore the full gamut of Fringe. If you find yourself in Northbridge in the early evening this week, with an hour or so to spare, have a gamble. It ends this Saturday, on the Festival’s penultimate day.
The Blue Room Theatre, 53 James Street, Northbridge (Perth)
Performance: Thursday 9 February 2017
Season continues to Saturday 18 February 2017
Information and bookings: www.fringeworld.com.au
Image: courtesy of the Blue Room Theatre
Review: Kate Prendergast