Friday 29 September 2017

For The Ones Who Walk Away - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Do we accept the happiness of the majority, at the expense of the few? This is the question raised in For the Ones Who Walk Away with its immersive and interactive live art performance performed by over 50 children aged 9 - 18. Presented by St Martin's Youth Arts Centre, it's an ethereal yet dark exploration of humanity and the choices we make.

Audiences are initially separated into groups and led to a workroom to experience their first performance. From here, we are free to wonder around and enter whichever workroom we gravitate towards. The interactions in each room vary and I find myself playing the role of observer, participant and creator throughout the course of the evening. We are told there will not be enough time to visit each room, so I don't rush and walk through the hallway until I see a room that takes my interest

I approach a teenager girl who hands me a rock and begins to ask me numerous questions about my life. I respond by placing the rock along a chart on how accurate that statement is. I'm also asked to share my life story with her in less than a minute and not only do I find myself questioning how honest I should be with this stranger but also how honest I am with myself. Another room has attendees and performers going through the futile act of separating flower petals into colours while being dealt with some difficult "would you rather" questions: would you rather be sexist or racist?

With text from the St Martins ensemble, Daniel Keene's The Fire Testament and Ursula K. Le Guin's The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, in which an entire town's happiness rests on the eternal misery of a single child, there is much to contemplate and meditate on. There are effective motifs present throughout, including flowers, rocks and newspapers, which heighten the mood and tone of the production and creating a feeling of something darker hiding underneath all the beauty.

The performances from the 50 plus children show a deep understanding of the intention of the show and the majority stay well committed to their role and in their interactions with the attendees. The director's notes in the program refer to using repetitive cycles within the performance and whether we have the strength to walk away from these, yet in a number of workrooms we are told the performance has ended and we should go to another workroom. Had these run continuously and perhaps kept us there longer than we might have intended to stay, this idea would have been better felt.

It has been two days since I saw For the Ones Who Walk Away and I find myself thinking more and more about it. Perhaps this is the awakening that St Martins is urging us to have.

Show Information 

Venue: 33 Saxon St, Brunswick, 3056.
Season: until 1 October| 7:00pm
Length: 70 minutes

Tickets: $40 Full | $30 Conc

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

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