FRINGEWORLD 2018 | likenobodyswatching | 4 stars

Review | Laura Money

likenobodyswatching sees solo performer Jake Simonds alone on a self-imposed desert island, in a love letter to isolation movies – crushing hard on Tom Hanks and Castaway. Whilst the premise sounds quite niche, it’s Simond’s giving performance and passion for the subject that staunches all thoughts of elitism – the audience feels like they understand, even if it’s been 18 years since seeing the movie Castaway. (Well, it is for me, anyway!)

A yellow rope loops around and forms the perimeter of the stage that confines Simonds and his basketball, Spalding Gray – possibly named after the master monologuer himself (highly likely, considering the obvious love of personal isolation and theatre as an exploratory art form.) Simonds begins by attempting to make fire – don’t be alarmed if you’re in the front row – not only are you well outside of the confines of Simonds’ island – he’s also rubbish at making fire. Trolled by Spalding Gray (in a recording of his own voice) Simonds insists on using the Tom Hanks Castaway method – rather than the actual way of doing it, to stay committed to the bit. And committed he is – wearing an outfit that can only be described as Robinson Crusoe chic, Simonds bares all in his impassioned performance.

There’s humour, reflection, introspection, memory, and even interpretive dance! It’s not unfair to say that the audience aren’t quite sure what to make of the interpretive dance, but stick with it, as it comes good in the end. Throughout the piece are small interludes where Simonds philosophises and reminisces on feelings of isolation – like being lost, feelings of social isolation – like being the only kid in the class with his hand up, and feelings of internal isolation – like feeling terribly alone when actually on your own. As he makes these statements, he draws the rope in – literally minimising his world. Simonds is a charming performer. He gives everything to this exposing role – and, it’s not just because I think all Americans are the same, but his impressions of Tom Hanks are inspired.

Simonds has a clear passion for and great knowledge of ‘Isolation Movies’ – including a whole spate of movies (sorry, films!) that became popular after Castaway like Gravity, The Martian, 127 Hours, Life of Pi, Home Alone…(Ok, I know that it pre-dated Castaway but it’s relevant. Also, how dumb am I? It took me forever to realise that Home Alone is an isolation movie – I mean, it’s in the freaking name!) Simonds explores the very human need to explore the psychology of isolation, especially in the arts. In all of these films, the protaganist is challenged, changed, and many times improved by their forced isolation. These films have a lot to say, and Simonds, as a keen scholar, listens carefully.

likenobodyswatching explores what goes on in our brains when we face true lonesomeness. It asks, when does the voice in our head start affecting the voice we use out loud? So, go and see it – believe me, Simonds performs uninhibited – like nobody is watching him.

WHEN: 7 – 13 February 2018 | 10:20pm

WHERE: The Ramp | The Ice Cream Factory | Northbridge

INFO: Tickets $10 – $22 | Duration 55 mins | Suitable 15+ | THEATRE



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