FRINGE THEATRE – Our Solar System – Holden Street Theatres – 4.5K

Alexander Ewers

Our Solar System is an intimate and wholehearted one-man performance that muses on the choices – things done and not done – that define a life trajectory. Painted in broad brush-sweeps of lyrical descriptive prose with bursts of detailed colour, the show is a sensitive melange of past and present. The present: a disillusioned office worker returning to a nondescript beach of boyhood memories to farewell a fisherman he once knew. The past: a boy haunted and hounded by fears and dreams of the ocean, a fear sharpened and dreams given form by a summer spent with the ocean and its ‘guardian’. The two, past and present, tumble against and over each other in rolling surging tides of words and images, merging until it is difficult to discern which is more real and alive and valuable.

Our Solar System is about time. It is about the ocean, that great unchanged but always changing entity. It is about memory, about those sentinel moments in life aroufnd which our existence seems to forever revolve, moments that so shape our being that we are never able to escape their gravitational pull. The ocean plays both metaphor and literal substrate carrying this performance. Fickle, personal, powerful, inescapable, it is the fabric of memory rippling (or rather vibrating) with stories and identities and pasts that are inextricable, inextirpable, ineluctable. Actor Spencer Scholz succeeds in conveying a sense of transfixed horror and fascination, fear and desire, such that by the conclusion of the show the ocean seems verily invested with identity and personality – Old Man Stingray.

Staged outdoors in the Garden at Holden Street Theatre, Our Solar System is refreshingly honest and unpretentious. There is something enormously appropriate with respect to an Australian ocean themed performance, in being surrounded by Australian natives, a gentle breeze and the gathering dusk. Somehow it captures a note of vitality, an oceanic sense of abandonment that lingers just beyond the conscious in the fabric of our Australian identity. Scholz draws on deeper Australian influences, taking inspiration from the writing styles of Thiele and Winton. And just like Thiele or Winton, his prose is effective, utterly transporting. For 60 minutes, the concrete world melts away before the rawness of descriptive imagery that calls to each of our own pasts and stories rooted in ocean and memory. For 60 minutes, the past is the present and the present ripples and vibrates to the tides of the past. It is nostalgia. It is regret. It is the gravitational tug of our individual solar systems.

Kryztoff Rating 4.5K

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