By Abbie Gallagher
“Two men have locked themselves away in a cave. Outside their window are thousands of buzzing flies that tap on the glass. But under the noise there is something else whispering in the wind. In their solitude, the humans are troubled by singing rivers and creatures unknown. What is it that they’re so afraid of? A Game for Flies is about magic, nature and what the breeze may blow in through a window left open....”
Written and directed by Brianna McCarthy, A Game for Flies is the second production for Yellow Handle Theatre Company after their turn in this year’s Sydney Fringe with the excellent Kallistei. And quite honestly, if this is the calibre they’re producing in the space of just a few weeks, we should all be excited about what's to come, because like Kallistei, A Game For Flies is nothing short of mesmerising.
Both written and devised, much of the inherently theatrical production is open to interpretation. The era and location could be anything from a dystopian future, the present day, or 1900. It could be Australia, it could be a mystical kingdom reminiscent of Game of Thrones. The answers are all up to you, and even if you don’t know, it doesn’t matter, because whatever world this is, it’s one that I loved spending time in. With creative lighting, ethereal costumes and a gorgeous sound design by Lili Occhiuto featuring sounds of nature and cleverly layered vocals from the cast, the atmosphere and narrative becomes a thing of beauty.
The strong cast features Cheng Tang, Nicholas Brady, Prudence Bernadette, Beryl Tuyet and Matylda Bre. Our characters never even receive a name yet the strength of the actors, writing and directing allows the audience to glean exactly what they’re about, while at the same time leaving them open to individual thoughts. Cheng Tang and Nicholas Brady have an impressive dynamic as the men in the cave. Brady has a commanding yet vulnerable presence as a man desperate to lock himself away from the outside world, and from all accounts, it’s purely fear of the unknown (but I think we can all sympathise with his hatred of flies getting into the house!).
In contrast, Cheng’s character longs to experience the mysteries that lie beyond the cave, a thirst that is sharpened by the mysterious singing creatures that enter through the metaphorically placed window and show him what he could experience.
Despite having no dialogue, so much humanity and character was woven through the use of movement, sound, props, fabric and the stunning performances of the three women who play the creatures. Making use of obvious dance training, physical theatre skillfully draws Cheng and the audience into a realm of wonder, with Prudence Bernadette’s flawless singing being used to great effect.
“If everything is understandable, categorised and programmable, magic ceases to exist...The aim of this piece of theatre is to find some of the magic that is discoverable in our bodies and defiant of logic or reason….A Game For Flies explores opening up, being reintroduced to what our bodies know and being amongst the unknowable,”
The director’s notes only cement that A Game For Flies has accomplished what it set out to do, and then some.
There’s little else to say, except that my one hope is that this comes back on a larger scale, developed further and in a bigger space to allow the choreography and storytelling to be taken beyond what it’s already done so admirably.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.