-by Coleman Grehan
(Photo credit: Arthur Productions)
C Block Theatre, Gorman House Arts Centre
Who would win in a fight between a horse and hippopotamus? This is one of the many questions, if not the million dollar question, that is posed in Arthur Productions’ Cut Snake.
Cut Snake, written by Amelia Evans and Dan Giovannoni, follows the lives of the craziest trio you’ll ever meet; there’s Kiki (Catherine Davies), a cabaret performer who wants to dance the tango with a bearded lady on Mount Kilimanjaro, Jumper (Kevin Kiernan-Molloy), a young man in love with a snake, and Bob (Julia Billington), the brainiac who figures out the answer to the million dollar question. Arthur Productions have crafted a wondrous, absurd comedy that still presents a touching coming-of-age narrative.
This quirky hour-long play, presented in partnership with Canberra Youth Theatre (CYT) and Gorman House Arts Centre (GHAC) was performed in CYT’s home studio, C Block Theatre. The blanket fort-like set, together with the intimate small capacity venue exuded a warm and cosy feel. Audience members were offered the opportunity to sit either on the stalls or on a pillow on the floor. As a new arrival to Canberra, this was the first production I’d seen in C Block Theatre, and I was a little disappointed to see how many seats in the stalls had a railing obstructing the view of the stage. Take note: the seats with the best views were at the front or to the very sides of the stalls.
Cut Snake made up for its ‘vanilla-flavoured’ (with the exception of a remarkable scene involving cigarette lighters) sound and lighting design with some serious talent. These actors are also dancers, acrobats, musicians, budding puppeteers and much more. These exemplary performers managed to show a wide variety of talent without the event becoming a variety show. However, Billington, playing Bob, stole the stage with her versatile character work and charismatic stage presence.
Director and devisor Paige Rattray managed to balance comedy with the more poignant moments of the show almost seamlessly. The audience was drawn in from the moment the house lights went down, responding willingly to Kiernan-Molloy’s order to applaud at the beginning of the show.
As well as being a highly entertaining show, Cut Snake thrives on its well crafted narrative. Evans and Giovannoni create a series of strong motifs that reappear throughout the play ever so subtly. Once you leave the theatre, you’ll begin to piece together seemingly absurd scenes and realise that there’s much more to the show than you realised.
Unlike many events at You Are Here Festival 2014, Cut Snake came with a cost but for the mere price of $20, this production was well worth the value.
Coleman Grehan is a freelance theatre artist and music composer currently residing in Canberra, Australia. Born in Singapore and raised in Brisbane, he graduated from Queensland Academy for Creative Industries in 2012 and recently graduated from an internship with Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre in 2013. He currently is studying a Bachelor of International Relations/Bachelor of Arts at Australian National University. Coleman is currently devising a butoh/live-art piece entitled “HIM” to take up to Brisbane as part of Anywhere Theatre Festival 2014.