FRINGE 2016 – Get Around Me – Gillian English – 2.5K

By Peter Maddern

Canadian Gillian English cuts a formidable figure as she strides the Bally stage at Gluttony in her Canadian AFL guernsey. The first two thirds of her show is good fun focused as it is on her journey into AFL, starting off with the need to fit in and get a job at an Australian mining company in Toronto and finishing (at least as to its upward progression) in Melbourne representing her country at the AFL World Games in 2014.

If anyone who has been brought up on the game ever takes a step back they can quickly appreciate how Aussie Rules is such an odd thing for those who haven’t. Just handling the ball, especially bouncing it, is quite counter intuitive and its no off-side convention makes it almost unique in out-door sports.

As one who once struggled to get AFL recognised in the US, it was fun to revisit all those aspects of the game North Americans (at least) find attractive and / or intriguing about it. At the core of those is the fact that it is a game that, almost uniquely, people of all shapes and sizes can play, especially at the sub professional level – the speedy, slight wingster, the plodding back pocket, the less than intelligent lumbering ruckman to name just a few.

That women are now making such a mark on its ranks in this context comes then as no surprise and a welcome addition to its history and lore.

The last third of Get Around Me then took a 90 degree turn which was rather more problematic and I fully expect opinion to divide on its merits. In this English recounted an episode of sexual assault on her at an after party for the World Games by a fellow countryman. The issue of sexual assault is important and of course a worthy topic for a Fringe show but having detailed that ‘justice was done’ by Vic Police, English continued her grievances that for this reviewer took the show beyond entertaining theatre to an unhappiness.

But, as I say, I fully expect opinion will divide on this portion of the show.

Kryztoff Rating 2.5K

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