FRINGE – Happy Gas – Channel 9 Kevin Crease Studios – 3K


Two people, an old Ford Laser, and the expansive area of a sound stage at the Chanel 9 Studios combine to provide what is really a staple of any Fringe Festival – some abstract theatre. The blurb for the show describes the characters as clowns and, while they are certainly very funny at times, it’s best to think along the creepy homicidal line rather than someone you might expect to meet at the circus or a children’s birthday party. Developed by director Paulo Castro and performers Hannah Moore and Nick Bennett, multiple disjointed scenes pile on top of one another; filled with energy, aggression and an unsettling intensity.

The space of the studio allows the action of the piece to develop in a way that wouldn’t be possible in a traditional theatre. The use of lamps, heaters and fluorescent tubes to light the actors is fun and effective, combining with the sound coming from an old CD player to create a disconcerting ambiance. The characters vacillate been fighting with one another and telling stories directly to the audience. There’s talk of crucifixion, sushi, and decapitation amongst other things. As each scene plays out you are left to isolate the connecting threads, to piece together the overarching story.

The latter half of the show follows a more traditional narrative as the two characters, now clearly defined, named and consistent, discuss the details of, and their feelings surrounding, the event that is at the core of the piece. This segment does bring several of the elements from earlier in the performance together but there are still multiple aspects of the earlier scenes that appear to remain tangential, or completely separate, to this. In the end you have some answers, some sense of a journey taken, however a hell of a lot of questions remain.

That’s not to say that it isn’t enjoyable, because it is. Moore and Bennett both give strong, engaging performances. Sometimes it’s the things that make no sense, that come completely out of nowhere and seem to disappear in a similarly elusive manner that are strangely delightful. Theatre doesn’t always have to make complete sense. It can also serve a purpose by engaging your brain, inciting unexpected feelings, or making you think about things in an alternative way as you explore what you’ve just witnessed. This show does all three.

Kryztoff Rating: 3K

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