Some Dumb Play
Review by Kelly Wong
Sue Benner Theatre, Metro Arts, Tuesday 6 November
Some Dumb Play is ironic. It’s far from dumb. In fact, it pushes technological and theatrical boundaries. Their first preview night last Tuesday gave an insight into how theatre can be changed to adapt with the times. The preconceived idea that you can be entertained by only what writer-director, Nathan Sibthorpe, forces you to see is thrown out the window.
Do you have a smartphone? Yes? You can now change the course of the play.
Tap into the free Wi-Fi. You’re given three choices — to decide what song gets played next. As each person votes and the graph updates in real-time, it’s passive aggressiveness at its best. This could be a useful idea at your next house party. This pre-show gets the audience used to the voting system and builds audience participation. Unfortunately, the graph doesn’t work for all phones so I had to peek at my friend’s phone (both Android — go figure).
Opening scene: various props arranged with the chaotic clutter and disorder often seen in the props room rather than on stage. Stillness. Flickering and TV white noise project against the back wall. The first three options are provided. We tap in our votes; a 30-second countdown begins. The actors half-prepare for each possible outcome. The winning vote is displayed. A very quick changeover and the show begins. In total there are 13 scenes. If you can do the math, this means there are 1, 594, 323 combinations.
Because every show is different, what I experienced may and probably will be entirely different for you. How do I review a show as diverse as this? I can tell you that it will be hilarious; it will be so far left-of-field that it will stretch beyond your peripheral vision and it will have you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen with each scene change. Full credit goes to the amazing cast and technicians who have planned for something much bigger than you’ll experience. The cast have such strong dynamics and intensity that really makes this play so convincing and entertaining. I imagine it would be like preparing for an exam and not knowing what you’ll actually be pitted against.
Half the fun is not knowing entirely what will happen next, and even when you’ve voted, you AND the actors don’t know how it’ll turn out in reality. There was discomfort for some audience members as the play progressed due to the lack of direction, which the play thrives on. Regardless, be prepared — after the show you’ll be having heated debates with friends about what really did happen in that whirlwind 70-minute performance.
Remember reading all those choose-your-own-adventures as a child? This is the grown-up version in full force. Like rereading for a different outcome, you can return for a whole new adventure at a cheaper cost. Some Dumb Play is actually That Amazing Play.
SOME DUMB PLAY runs at Metro Arts until 17 Nov. Make sure you catch this performance of unpredictable theatre. http://www.metroarts.com.au
KELLY WONG (kellyyyllek.wordpress.com) is a PhD science student who enjoys eating, drinking and exploring her way around Brisbane and then tweets about it (@kellyyyllek).