Re:Group Performance Collective – Coil

Coil-Solomon-Thomas-Steve-Wilson-Alexander-photo-by-Rosie-HastieThis intriguing group-devised exploration of experimental video-theatre is an elegy about loneliness, nostalgia and friendship.

Presented in the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre as part of an extensive national tour, Coil is performed in a realistic reproduction of a suburban video shop complete with videos, DVD, and movie posters. This occupies one side of the stage, and a huge video screen is arranged on the other.

Steve Wilson-Alexander plays Steve, a charming video store proprietor, who casually addresses the audience as if it were one of his regular customers. Steve reminisces about the demise of video shops, his favourite movies, his favourite actors, and his favourite way of spending time (watching his favourite movies on video). He offers information about his friends; their favourite movies, favourite actors etc.

Then he introduces his friends, Rose Maher and Solomon Thomas, and confides that the three of them are making a movie. He invites the audience to watch them make it.

Rose settles on a computer on one side of the stage while Solomon operates a hand held video camera and they immediately set about quickly filming a series of filler shots with Steve playing all the roles. These shots are filmed out of sequence and make no sense.

Once they are satisfied they have enough material, they quickly assemble it and run the film in real time; technology blurring reality and fantasy with results that are hilarious and fascinating.

As the filming and the movie progresses however, the audience finds itself privy to a conversation between Steve and Rose, during which Rose accuses Steve of living in the past rather than face the future. Refusing to be caught up in his life any longer she ends the friendship.

This clever weaving of fantasy and reality, live theatre and technology is not only subtly subversive; it is also hugely entertaining and unexpectedly moving. But best of all, it leaves the audience with unanswered questions about life, technology and the future.

Re:Group Performance Collective – Coil
The Q Theatre – Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre, 253 Crawford Street, Queanbeyan
Performance: Tuesday 8 August 2023
Season continues to 9 August 2023

Following the Queanbeyan performances, Coil will be presented at the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Theatre (11 – 12 August), Kingston Butter Factory Logan (17 August), Redland Performing Arts Centre (18 – 19 August), Darwin Festival (23 – 25 August) and Bondi Pavilion (7 – 8 September). For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Solomon Thomas and Steve Wilson-Alexander in Coil – photo by Rosie Hastie

Review: Bill Stephens OAM