Wolf is both an innovative and original work challenging audience expectations about what a Fringe performance should be. It was created in consultation with Queensland Alliance for Mental Health, and as mental health is a prominent issue, this work serves as a fitting social commentary.
As an open-access festival, Adelaide Fringe promotes ‘innovative thinking and original voices’. This work is original in its ability to leave one feeling unsettled with its episodic nature and tumultuous energy.
The creative team at Prying Eye Productions, Liz and Zaimon Vilmanis, have amalgamated several disciplines in their latest work. It showcased dance, theatre, comedy, and music.
The show was bookended by two piercing sets of eyes staring at the audience through the darkened theatre. They moved around the stage somewhat disembodied causing a sense of unease.
Once the lights were up, we were presented with the actors dressed in corporate wear. What followed was a scene full of mishaps featuring Liz at the microphone, Scarlett, a work experience student who Zaimon could not address by the correct name, and Charles donning pink socks that didn’t conform, thus upsetting his colleague.
Animal onesies and business suits made for unusual dance attire. Dancing was clearly the strength in this production. There were several choreographed dance sequences that showcased excellent technique, beautiful lines and skilful footwork.
Liz’s solo accompanied by Scarlett’s live singing was a captivating moment as was another sequence featuring all three dancers against a soundtrack of wasp-like buzzing and pounding heartbeat. “Running With the Wolf” was the featured song with ethereal lyrics crafted by composer and sound artist, Guy Webster.
The other elements seemed disparate and chaotic, but given the subject matter, perhaps this was intentional. Nevertheless, there was no clear plot following the opening scene. Liz even broke the fourth wall and gazed into audience’s eyes questioning their expectations.
The finale featured a colourful unicorn encouraging the actors to just breathe. At this point, the patron sitting beside me began scoffing, marched across to the exit, signalled to two other patrons, and the three walked out of the theatre.
There still exists stigma surrounding mental illness, and I commend Prying Eye Productions for trying to address such a sensitive topic through their art regardless of the reception from some viewers.
This is not a work for the faint-hearted; it is confronting at times, but poses some interesting questions concerning existentialism, fear, and liberation. Prepare to be challenged in your thinking about art, society, life choices, and how others view you.
Reviewed performance: 22 February 2018
21 – 25 February 2018 at 9.30 pm
28 February – 4 March 2018 at 8.00 pm
3 March at 1.30 pm
Venue: Tandanya Theatre