Sunday, 29 September 2019

Whiplash - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Scott is on a date with a woman when his heart decides to disappear. Left with no choice but to deep dive inside his own body to try and locate it, where he meets an assortment of 'characters' along the way, including Brain, Dick and Mr. Fuck You Guy. Performed by Scott Wings, Whiplash is a thoughtful reflection on masculinity, mental health and relationships expressed through spoken word and physical theatre.

Wings conjures strong visual images with his descriptive words and in return there are plenty of emotional reactions to be felt. There is a vulnerability in the narrative and he isn't afraid to open himself up to a room full of strangers. He has a knack for finding the humour in a situation and ensures the story is filled with these observations. As he passes the stomach and comes across a ball of gum and nails long ago consumed, we smile at the familiarity of that brief comment. His tone and intonation throughout are effective in creating the atmosphere and his considered pacing stresses the urgency and intensity of our protagonist's circumstances but also allows for a breather as needed.


The physical drives this tale as much as the verbal does and his impersonations of the different parts of the body feel very accurate. His encounter of the past (and future) versions of himself, ranging from 6 to 40, is well executed and brilliantly distinguishes the personality and mentality of a man in various years of his life, with 18 year-old Scott being particularly entertaining to watch. The ensuing arguments and fight between all his selves highlights the running theme of an internal conflict of someone who wants to find himself but has so many voices constantly badgering him.

Whiplash's charm lies in the simplicity of its story and even with the creative ways Wings uses to explore this, it is grounded in something real and honest. However, there are moments towards the end, such as the dialogue around the Vitruvian Man, where it gets caught up in itself and loses the introspection and the intimacy of the ideas presented.

There are intimations of Alice in Wonderland in Whiplash with Scott falling down a 'rabbit hole' into a strange new world where Hugh Jackman's abs are used as a cobblestone path. It's a committed and impressive performance by Wings who has clearly put his heart and soul in this meditation of what it means to grow up and to be a better person, and that's probably a lesson we could all do with.


Whiplash was performed between 19 - 29 September 2019.

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