Founded in 2012, Lab Kelpie have steadily built up an exceptional catalogue of new Australian writing. Productions such as the charismatic psychopathy of A Prudent Man, or the tender-love-story-in-the-face-of-mass-extinction of Oil Babies, show how their work can be scaled up or pared down.
Written by Liz Newell and directed by Lyall Brooks, Alone Outside is a wonderful addition to Lab Kelpie’s pedigree and a fine example of storytelling. The set is sparse, but geometric. An arrangement of tiles, which Sharon Davis never steps off, with a big tractor tyre discarded on its side upstage.
Brook’s direction keeps much of this geometry at its spine, with Davis walking along the tile edges, often in repeating patterns – all while Newell’s text flows in contrast over the audience, gently pulling them in. Indeed, the story is cast out like a net, ensnaring the audience’s own emotions and memories of lost love and remorse – as Davis’ character tells us of her own.
The text is wistful, and Davis does lovely work with it. She isn’t a belligerent story-teller, the words are meant but not pushed.
In the end you realise Alone Outside is a ghost story. As Davis’s character walks in places empty now (but not then), she is visited by the past and her memories of what was. A quiet, regretful space all too familiar, made more familiar by this impressive work of theatre.
Studio 2 – Arts House, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Friday 21 September 2018 – 6.45pm
Season continues to 29 September 2018
Information and Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au
Image: Sharon Davis stars in Alone Outside – photo by Theresa Harrison
Review: David Collins