Admittedly, I did walk in to Terror Australis not knowing what to expect at all, and I am so glad I did because the delights it unearthed are so much richer if you have no idea what’s to come (so either go see it now, or read on at your own peril). Through a clever mix of cabaret, burlesque, live art, dance and comedy, the show looks at the dark culture of Australia with gobsmacking flair.
The set design is true Australiana with a hills-hoist used for makeshift pole-dancing, resulting in some pretty slick and sexy routines. Added set pieces such as goon bags, knives and dingo masks further enhance the strong feelings of ambiguous national pride, and while these items are enough to infer what performer Leah Shelton may be referencing, watching as these allusions comes to life takes it to a magnificent other level.
Shelton pays homage to various Australian songs, films – including classics such as Picnic At Hanging Rock and Crocodile Dundee - and significant moments of history, such as that incident with the dingo... Projections are played out on to the various sheets that hang from the hills-hoist while it spins around, creating jarring and distorted images of the selected movie scenes and visuals, adding to the macabre and twisted atmosphere being created.
Shelton is sensational as she brings her various characters to life and plays up to the archetypes of these film and cultural references brilliantly. The costuming is literally the perfect example of when less is more and her comic timing is impeccable and has the entire room in stitches.
No Aussie icon is sacred as Shelton tears through Australia with some unforgettable acts in Terror Australis. It is a brave production that relies on the audience to let themselves be taken on a incredible journey through the deep dark psyche of this country, to fully appreciate how truly clever and outstanding this show is.
Venue: Fringe Hub - Arts House, 521 Queensberry
Street, North Melbourne, 3051
Season: until 1 October | 9:15pm
Length: 45 minutes
Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival
* Original review appeared on TheatrePress on 28 September 2016.