Alexander Berlage is a young Sydney-based lighting designer with a slew of impressive credits to his name. Last night, he picked up the Sydney Theatre Award for Best Lighting Design of an Independent Production for his work on 4:48 Psychosis at the Old Fitz (it should be noted, he also received a nomination in the same category for his lighting design on Doubt at the same venue). But on top of that, Berlage is also a burgeoning director. In July, he will be at the helm of the Australian premiere production of American Psycho: The Musical at Hayes Theatre Co.
There will be a climax sees Berlage wearing his director’s hat. The piece originally premiered at NIDA in December 2016, as part of the 2016 Directors and Designers Graduating Productions. It’s now the first cab off the rank in what is set to be another successful season for Red Line Productions, which has transformed Woolloomooloo’s Old Fitz Theatre into one of Sydney’s most exciting homes of independent theatre.
Attempting to describe There will be a climax in any real detail is a challenge – it’s wonderfully original. But, essentially, you have six Marceau-esque characters (Toby Blome, Oliver Crump, Duncan Ragg, Geneva Schofield, Alex Stylianou and Contessa Treffone) who find themselves stuck on a spinning revolve they believe they’re unable to escape. In the opening minutes of the piece, the six players dance in perfect unison (their terrific routine choreographed by Toby Derrick) to an enduring classic eighties track. The revolving stage projects out into the audience, bringing the performers within centimetres of the first few rows. It’s pleasing to be able to observe their animated facial expressions from that distance. Eyeballing individual audience members, they effectively convey a sense of being captives to their own movement.
As the show progresses, it becomes clear the characters have tired of the spinning and desperately want to get off. But objects keep appearing that divert their attention away from those efforts. So, the question is, will they ultimately be able to re-focus or are they destined to remain slavishly on the revolve in perpetuity, trapped by rigid fascination with their new objects?
Over the course of its 50-minute running time, There will be a climax has no dialogue, but for vocables. We completely rely on the skills of the performers. Fortunately, this group is rich in the talent required to pull this off. Not only are their performances mesmerising because of the ability they demonstrate to tell the story sans dialogue, but because they actually make these strange clowns likeable (when, in other hands, the characters could easily irritate.) Each of the six exhibits excellent physicality and personality, including a knack for physical comedy.
Nicholas Fry’s set chiefly comprises gold foil curtains – an apt choice, seeing as though they resemble bright and shiny distracting objects themselves. The stylish clown garb (an oxymoron?) in which he’s costumed the performers and the striking makeup and wigs are noteworthy, while Berlage’s lighting choices are simple but apposite throughout.
You may have chalked up nights at the theatre where narratives have focused on contemporary society’s alarming consumerist behaviour. But you can be certain you’ve not seen it done quite like There will be a climax. It’s a highly unusual and utterly entertaining experience.
THERE WILL BE A CLIMAX – SEASON DETAILS
Venue: Old Fitz Theatre
Dates: Playing now until 3 February, 2018
Times: Tue – Sat 8:00pm / Sun 5:00pm; Matinees: Sat 27 January & Sat 3 February, 5:00pm
Tickets: $33- $45
Book tickets at www.redlineproductions.com.au