Anywhere Festival & Bent Schematic
May 6 – 21 2016
Reviewed by Katy Cotter
To be perfectly honest this is not so much a review but a recount of an utterly bizarre and wonderfully mind-boggling show I saw last Friday night. The best thing about Anywhere Festival is that you experience theatre in spaces other than the traditional or well-known venues.
A friend and I arrived at the Old Skate Arena at Red Hill and outside the ominous-looking (“I laugh in the face of danger!”) charcoal building with its skeletal roof exposed to the elements; a large tent was erected made entirely out of red shirts sewn together. There was music, there was wine, and there were Gremlins! It was clear we had entered a new world with new rules. After collecting our tickets from a very nice Gremlin with a thick German accent who wore a saucepan on her head – and the tickets were a rusty nut and a bolt – we were ushered into the tent. Oh, not without being heavily scanned for explosives, of course! One of the Gremlins (who I later found out was called Mothball) licked my rusty bolt before allowing me to pass her inspection. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d have to write!
I was absolutely blown away by the set for this show. The stage – which was the Gremlins’ half built/falling apart/not a hope of getting off the ground aircraft – looked tragically fantastic with the burnt out Skate Arena as the backdrop. The audience was immersed from start to finish by the four Gremlin characters that made several failed attempts to fly us to faraway destinations, and awkwardly covering their dismal efforts by distracting us with slapstick comedy routines and juggling flaming potatoes. No, really, there was a point I thought my head was going to spin off. What the hell am I watching? What is the point of all this?
My advice for people seeing this show is not to search too deeply for meaning. Open your eyes and enjoy the mania, the magic, the madness.
There was one particular Gremlin who stole my heart: Mothball. She wore a mischievous smile from ear to ear and cackled better than any witch, and out of all the performers was the most fluent in Gremlin-talk. Mid-way through the show she tells the origin story of the Gremlins and her brother Yadek has to translate. Even though Mothball was speaking Gremlin, she relayed the story with such passion and conviction that there were moments when no translation was needed. This was an incredible part of the show and I wanted to know more about the Gremlins. Where were the rest of the Gremlins and why were these particular Gremlins here now?
My curious mind would remain scrambled with no answers but my soul was sky high after this show. It is no wonder The Gremlins have had raving success on the festival circuit. Bent Schematic is an adventurous and innovative company, creating site specific theatre in quirky spaces. They pride themselves on their collective desire to create work that others dare not.