Edinburgh Fringe 2013
A beautiful blending of several different styles of puppetry interacting with polished, panoramic multimedia landscapes, It’s Dark Outside is a smashing together of genres and media to create an incredibly lovely, tender vision of age and dementia.
ReviewThere are a number of pieces at this year’s Festival Fringe dealing with ageing and the slipping away of the mind, but none so eloquently as this silent production. The work of Australian company, Perth Theatre Company, It’s Dark Outside tells the story of a man’s journey entirely through sumptuous visuals. Mixing noir mystery with spaghetti western, we follow an old man through the desert as he flees a younger, shadowy figure who’ll stop at nothing to apprehend the ageing fugitive. Along the way he encounters friends, dangers, and memories and, ultimately, we discover that things aren’t always what they seem.
The use of media in this production is absolutely fantastic. Not since 1927’s The Animals and Children Took to the Streets have we seen such well-used, immersive projections. The characters step in and out of the projections as easily as you might through a door. Slipping behind the screen, they become jagged-edged shadows, melting into hand-drawn computer animations. They also play with scale to great effect, seamlessly shifting from life-size to larger-than-life and down into miniature scale to achieve various effects. The result is that the work has a very cinematic quality – a watch-ability that staged work sometimes has difficulty achieving. Clever use of materials allows the company to get across the central themes and paint us a picture of the losing of the faculties with remarkable effectiveness. With the vast screen at their disposal it would be easy to simply resort to computerised visuals to illustrate such wispy stuff as memories and dreams, but Perth Theatre Company don’t take the easy way out, instead using tactile means to achieve the same end with greater impact.
It’s Dark Outside doesn’t really break any new ground, and it’s not political or controversial in any way. What it does is bring together a number of existing techniques very effectively to create a breath-taking landscape and tell a heart-breaking story with tenderness and care. This show is a feast for the eyes and, if it doesn’t leave us smiling on the way out, it is no less a triumph for it. Dry eyes are a rarity as we leave the theatre, many of us flooding down to the stage to congratulate the three performer/puppeteers as we go. It dawns on me that this silent performance has given words to the voiceless. Less can of course be more, and It’s Dark Outside proves this to remarkable effect. Go see this show if you can – it’s certain to tour and, when it does, tickets will most likely be difficult to come by for this earnest and lovely performance, so book early, before it slips your mind.