fringe: concrete

adelaide fringe: concrete
Concrete, as an adjective, is:
  1. constituting an actual thing or instance
  2. pertaining to or concerned with realities or actual instances rather than abstractions
  3. representing or applied to an actual substance or thing, as opposed to an abstract quality
  4. made of concrete
  5. formed by coalescence of separate particles into a mass.
Concrete, as the show from the Concrete Collective, only fits the last definition.

The show is a collection of very separate particles, none of which necessarily go with any of the others, and together they form... well, a mass.

I want to make it completely clear that I think the three performers, Luke Hubbard, Dylan Rodriguez and Colette Pengelley are all incredibly talented.

But when it comes to circus and dance (both of which feature heavily in this show), I only ever want one thing. Character. If that character comes along with an understandable story, so much the better, but at the end of the day, if you give me some element of character, then I'm all yours. If I can't tell almost instantly what the scenario you're trying to convey is, I'm not going to engage.

Symbolism is also all well and good, but if nobody knows what it's supposed to be a symbol for, is it really symbolism. Also you can mix comedy and drama together, so long as the transitions make a degree of sense.

Oh, and pick your music very carefully, because music choices make all the difference.

As far as Concrete was concerned, I just couldn't find that one element to pull me through the show. It felt like it was all over the place, flicking from comedy to drama to abstraction. It felt like exactly what it was... a series of vignettes and ideas that had been pushed together to form the hour we all spent in a room together.

That's not to say that there weren't moments. The flamingo and duck number right at the end was genius, although I would have loved to see it pushed even further, with the duck really getting in there.

And the ballet vs breaking number could have been amazing, if the same music was kept through the whole number... changing to more street music made it obvious, but keep the classical music (or just throw a drum track under it), whole new ballgame.

The makeup number was interesting, but first it veers dangerously close to "blackface" and then just fizzles into nothing much.

However the "Beyonce" number is so completely incongruous with everything before or after it that it kind of grinds the whole show to a total halt. And that may just simply be the fact that suddenly there are words, loud words, incongruous words, irritating words. It also feels like the idea of a feminine man is being used purely for comic effect, and given that it's being done by Rodriguez, who is already a feminine man, it just didn't sit well with me.

I did kind of wish that Hubbard and Rodriguez had embraced their sexuality more in their performances (if they are both, as I presume, gay men)... it felt like the only times they really came together was either in a combative sense or a camp and asexual one.

The studio stage at The Bakehouse seemed like an incredibly odd choice for this kind of circus and dance show. It's very small and it felt like the performers were either going to hit the walls, the ceiling or the audience at any moment. And given how small it is, every time the performers thump into the floor or the walls, the whole theatre shakes, from the seats on up.

Also because the show is a series of isolated routines, the transitions between are often either too long, are missing music leaving the stage in complete silence before another piece of music starts or have lights and music but no performers. And I realise some of that was due to costume changes... but did there actually need to be that many costume variations.

I fully acknowledge that I have very high expectations for this kind of show, but sadly this one just didn't get there.

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