Reviewer’s Log, stardate 23092017. Only those brave enough to journey through a Fringe-class nebula know the madness of its vast possibilities and uncountable permutations. We are facing mental and physical fatigue, yet determination drives us onwards. Our continuing mission is a desperate search for the ‘fringiest’ shows that boldly go where no one has gone before. By chance we have found a station to recharge the di-lithium crystals of our resolve – The Yonder.
Oh yes, this is definitely a fringe-worthy offering! The Yonder aims to be a “low-fi, sci-fi comedy” and it delivers on all of these measures in abundance. We didn’t need a tricorder to detect high levels of Fringe-based characteristics. In particular, this was theatre, on a low budget, in a small venue, with an impractically small number of actors for the required roles, and comedy arose from the scuttling required to cover them. Action and humour suggest that the show should hold particular appeal to those who enjoy Futurama or Red Dwarf.
The Yonder takes its name from the spacecraft we board upon entering the Lithuanian Club Loft. Our captain on this interstellar Beryllium flight from Earth to some distant sanctuary was silver-attired, professional comic Elizabeth Davie. Her crew of two were competent and slightly flouncy theatre maker Shannan Lim, and the ambitious and headstrong actor Ezel Doruk.
This performing trio have combined in other Fringe shows Asian Ghost-ery Store and Salty, winning awards. The Yonder is the concluding work of a series aiming to consider matters of race and migration through the use of absurdist humour. Just from the amusing shambles of the pre-launch procedure, it was quickly obvious that there would be tensions amongst the crew. A laugh-out-loud take-off sequence showed the total commitment of the cast to the physical demands of their journey.
As it’s in the Fringe guide, it’s not a spoiler to mention that Space Squids made their way on board. This forced each character to decide on how to handle alien contact. Scenes showing this provided some very silly and enjoyable moments. It was pleasing to see that our crew had the discipline to keep these interludes sharp so as to keep the story moving along.
Davie was a suitably commanding figure. Even when collapsed on stage in this preview, with just a glance she used her presence and authority to prompt a lighting cue, and good laughs. Doruk mined comedy as he explored a range from romantic to boofhead. Lim adapted well to his various roles and brought an endearing childlike quality to his duties, as well as an ability to react to audience response.
The show had a run time of about 45 minutes instead of the 60 advertised, which I mention only because the ending seemed quite abrupt. Still, it’s better to burn bright and short than long and dull. Fringe explorers, set your course to intercept The Yonder, and they’ll greet you with phasers set to Fun. Make it so!
The Loft – Lithuanian Club, 44 Errol Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 23 September 2017 – 6.45pm
Season continues to 30 September 2017
Information and Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au
Image: Shannan Lim, Elizabeth Davie and Ezel Doruk – courtesy of Normal Children
Review: Jason Whyte