Tuesday 25 October 2022

Nu-Disco! review (Melb Fringe)

Some of our most memorable moments happen here. We meet people who we instantly connect with while knowing nothing about them. People we may have never otherwise met. We also learn about ourselves and even how society functions. Welcome to the world of clubbing. Presented as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, Ellen Marning's Nu-Disco! takes us into the dark recesses of a pulsating nightclub and the people who go there.

The experience of sitting in a tiny theatre space and seeing it transform into a tight, crowded, sweaty space of bodies moving together with a single person on stage is quite surreal. Marning delivers an enthralling performance as she swaps between characters while covering a gamut of emotions, thoughts and encounters. There is a lot of care taken to tell these stories in a genuine manner, and while they may be funny, we are never laughing at them.

Testament to Marning's confidence with her characters is her ability to step out of character during a stirring confessional scene to tell an obnoxiously rowdy audience member in the front row that she needed to stop talking particularly for this scene, and to go straight back into the role and continue with the same assurance and composure she had prior to that.

The impressive lighting design is a perfect example of being able to do so much with so little, with flashing colour-changing lights capturing the intensity and euphoria of letting loose and giving yourself over to the moment. At other times, a deep red light shines on Marning, combining the passion, sex, horror, danger and urgency of this Dionysian experience.

On the surface, Nu-Disco! might appear to simply be a loud show about drugs and dancing, but Marning has weaved together a trip inducing script that looks at what brings people to these clubs and why they keep returning. It's about the eye-opening, life changing realisations that only occur when dancing into the night - and the morning - and being free of all the restraints and challenges that life throws at us. It's about the freedom to just be.

Click here to read our interview with Ellen Marning.

was performed at The Butterfly Club between 17 - 23 October.

Image Credit:
Cameron Grant

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