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Review: Burnout Paradise at Trades Hall - Melbourne Fringe Festival

Review by Carly Fisher

Pony Cam is the type of company so inventive that once you have seen them once, you will be sure to take notice for all the shows that follow. I must admit, Burnout Paradise did not appear, from the publicity, to be my usual cup of tea and so whilst it wasn’t on my ‘MUST SEE’ list at the Melbourne Fringe Festival is now on my ‘MUST RECOMMEND’ list having attended.

This show can best be described as considered chaos. It is an ambitious project from the get go - perform a fringe show for an hour on a treadmill whilst fulfilling a set list of tasks. For the average audience member looking for a fun night out at fringe, this madness is perfectly entertaining. For the artists in the room, keen to explore the nuances of the commentary being made upon these treadmills, the show is clever and it is a lot deeper than the concept initially suggests.

The team at Pony Cam have created a performance that truly reflects what life as an Independent artist is like, without ever having to say the words. Constantly on the go with no opportunity to stop moving - and quickly - indie artists will feel the sentiments of this team quickly. On top of constantly moving on the treadmill, one must apply for grants, perform, get through daily ‘leisure’ tasks and feed themselves and so, in rotation, the Pony Cam cast do all of these things atop a treadmill.

A fringe show like this relies on the audience being willing to get involved and certainly, the packed house I attended was keen to get in on the show. That said, for those reading thinking ‘but I hate audience participation,’ this is far from one of those shows where you’re asked to jump on stage and embarrass yourself. No, here, you will just be on your feet in the audience bank running up and down to pass the cast props, keep a balloon afloat, taste some of the meal that they have prepared (at your own risk) and more. You may find that you’re asked to write a marketing pitch or whip your phone out for some research, or you may be stirring the pot for them as they make a 3 course meal…if this is sounding busy, you’re right. And yet, it al just works.

The commitment from the Pony Cam team is perhaps what makes this show work as well as it is. Claire Bird, Ava Campbell, William Strom, Dominic Weintraub and Hugo Williams make up the current lineup for Pony Cam. Campbell is down on the ground playing host to the audience, finishing a thesis and keeping track of the kilometres clocked up on the treadmills. Bird, Strom, Weintraub and Williams are up on the machines, each offering interesting and committed performances in each of the four areas that they must navigate before the task is over. The stand out for me was Bird’s reenactment of their childhood dance routines, in the costume, all performed on a treadmill…this was honestly so impressive that if the next show was just that, I’d be there!

This is the sort of show that fringe was created for. Something unusual, off the beaten track, that you won’t find in theatres year round but that when you do have the opportunity to see, you realise the potential power in performance art.

Kudos to all 5 of the Ponies - a seriously impressive performance that I hope makes its way around the Aussie fringe scene!

Image Supplied


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