FRINGEWORLD 2018 | The Big Dark | 4.5 stars

Review | Laura Money

The Big Dark – that transitional time between midnight and dawn when the ordinary is rendered extraordinary. It’s a place between dreams and lucidity – sleeping and wakefulness. Creator and deviser, Rhiannon Petersen is Janet – an everyman if you will, who just wants to get some sleep. She’s like you and me – she jogs (in an ungainly fashion), tries to eat plenty of fruit, get 8 hours of sleep a day – she expects to be able to go to sleep when she finishes her day. But the sinister forces of that Big Ol’ Dark keep sabotaging her increasingly frustrated attempts.

The set is ingeniously simple –  two wooden cabinets complete with multiple draws, a snuggly doona suspended from the hands of co-performer Tristan McInnes and manipulated in the first of the ‘bizarre’ sequences. Clad in black with a covered face, McInnes represents the dark forces that mischievously wreak havoc on Janet’s sanity. The piece starts off innocuously – a whimsical tug-of-war with the bed-covers, but it gains traction and takes a sinister turn as she is almost suffocated. What follows are a series of vignettes – surreal scenes that all start off cute and escalate.

There’s an adorable little puppet, moved beautifully by the talented Petersen, magical drawers that push themselves open unleashing the tangle of thoughts and responsibilities Janet must face in everyday life. The highlight of the show occurs when Janet’s hands take on a life of their own. She sits at the table, incredulously staring at her own hands as they cast off her sovereignty and move independently. This body horror experience is remarkable – one really believes that Petersen has no control of her hands – her performance is understated, watching on in horror as her hands contrive to do the most dangerous things they can. (Impishly encouraged by the dark force, McInnes, of course. Let’s just say, a blender is involved.)

The Big Dark is a whimsical piece about liminal spaces – sleep/awake, drawers with the possibility of being open or shut, night and day, light and dark – shadows. Petersen masterfully manipulates the world around her, creating a work that is the total embodiment of nightmares and dreamscapes – it’s that place between sleep and awake – it’s The Big Dark.

WHEN: 27 January – 1 February | 5pm & 6:30pm

WHERE: The Blue Room Theatre | Fringe Central | PERTH

INFO: Tickets $19 – $21 | Duration 50 mins | WA artist | THEATRE




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