Thursday 19 September 2019

The Market is a Wind-Up Toy - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

The world is having its final closing down sale. Everything must go, unless Arvid Flatpack can reclaim the golden bull. Presented by The Bloomshed, The Market Is A Wind-Up Toy is an absurdist comedy that critiques the free market as it explores the state our planet is in and wonders where we go to from here.

The writing and direction by James Jackson is wild and energetic and while it can be difficult to follow at times, it is completely absorbing. At times, it risks overwhelming its audience, particularly when combined with the design, but perhaps that’s the point. The world is very much fucked in so many ways. We should feel overwhelmed. We should be confused and struggle to simply keep up. There are a few awkward scenes that reference other cultures and their practices, including one where a character uses a variation of welcome to country in her proclamation of her love towards the use of plastic. It’s unnecessary to the overall narrative and it creates a discomfort that doesn’t suit the tone of The Market Is A Wind-Up Toy.

With a script such as this, it’s imperative that the ensemble not only support each other, but also have the ability to take the lead when in more prominent roles, and Edan Goodall, James Malcher, Olivia Bishop, Emily O’Connor, Elizabeth Brennan and Jackson excel at this. They are an incredibly well oiled team who are in full control of their characters and the show's structure. They move and speak confidently and their vibrancy never wanes. Malcher gives a memorable performance in his brief portrayal as the accountant of the underworld, conveying his devilish petulance as he rides about on his tricycle. Brennan is one more in her element as she displays impressive comedic skills with every scene she is in. Goodall is the perfect encapsulation of our protagonist Arvid in being able to express his hopefulness and naivety so effortlessly.

The technical design, with lighting by John Collopy and sound by Justin Gardam, is wholly supportive of the work with their clear understanding the script and intention of the show. Collopy and Gardam create a sense of urgency and disorientation while remaining grounded in the drama and comedy of what is unfolding.

With our ever-increasing consumerist way of life in constantly buying and replacing items as soon as there’s a slight defect, The Market Is A Wind-Up Toy allows us to take a long hard look at ourselves, and our society. It’s a challenging production by The Bloomshed, but there’s nothing wrong with having to earn your entertainment, especially when it’s an intelligent and inspiring piece of theatre such as this.


Theatre Works, 14 Acland St, St Kilda
Season: until 21 September | 9pm
Length: 60 minutes

Tickets: $28Full | $20 Conc and Group 6+ 

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

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