Brisbane Festival: LEO



Presented by Brisbane Festival & Arts Projects Australia

Brisbane Powerhouse

Directed by Daniel Brière

17 – 22 of September 2013


Reviewed by Guy Frawley




After delighting audiences in 2011 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (and picking up 3 awards to show for it) LEO has toured globally and has now made its Brisbane debut. Opening to a packed house last Tuesday night, Tobias Wegner charmed the audience in the same manner as he has done internationally. The stage is split in half, a large screen taking the left side and showing a live feed of the simple box set that fills the right side. Three walls and a floor is the entirety of the Spartan set, but it’s the live feed that helps make this performance something very unique.


From the beginning all of the magician’s wires, so to speak, are on full display. Using the simple idea of flipping the live feed by 90 degrees, the audience is presented with two very different yet equally impressive views of the same stage. On the right hand side the performer is contorted into a strange position that looks exceedingly uncomfortable and as if it probably requires a great deal of expertise. On the left hand side the live feed shows us the same scene, just flipped. Whilst what on the right had appeared to be an amalgam of downward facing dog and warrior pose, when flipped on the screen shows a man leaning against a wall without a care in the world.


I often was caught focusing on one side or the other. Unfortunately, in the same way, it’s a struggle to do the swap when you rub your stomach and pat your head, it was quite the challenge to pay attention to both sides of the stage. Or who knows, maybe that’s just a male thing. This really was unfortunate as it didn’t matter where one’s attention lay, either side was captivating and (now that I’ve seen it once) I wish I could watch both halves performed in isolation of the other. The most impressive part of it all was how effortless Wegner was able to make the entire show appear.


Entering the stage, Wegner soon begins to discover that in this space gravity is not exactly as it seems and over the next hour the audience is taken on a ride of pure whimsy. The stripped back, low key style of the performance is a refreshing approach (not a sentiment I often share, but here it’s nice) and compliments the simplicity of the concept. Things begin to become a little bit more surreal towards the second half of the performance as a series of chalk drawings to come to life, but still this effect was done with a single piece of white chalk and some very basic animation techniques.


This is the kind of show that you could take anyone to, and to be quite honest, I struggle to imagine that there would be many people out there who wouldn’t truly enjoy this work. The director, Daniel Brière, has done a brilliant job in creating an intricate and demanding piece of physical theatre that’s a joy to watch on so many different levels.


LEO is unique, it’s fun and if it comes around again you simply must see it!



There are just five days left of Brisbane Festival! What (else) will you be seeing?!

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