Review by Emily Smith
Patrick McPherson’s one-man play doesn’t give much away in its bio, other than being about love stories. I now know this isn’t to maintain an air of mystery but actually because the show is so hard to pin down or fit into a neat box. Nevertheless, I shall do my best to describe it…
In essence, Colossal is a twenty-four-year-old English guy called Dan telling the story of his dating history, specifically his most recent relationship. But it’s so much more than that, including insights into the rollercoaster that is his emotions, meditations on universal experiences and expectations in relationships, and an exploration of the storyteller’s power to mould the story.
The genre is also hard to pin-down, sometimes it’s a monologue, sometimes spoken word poetry, sometimes song or rap, with some not-too-shabby dance moves thrown in for good measure. McPherson’s commentary is witty and self-effacing, reminding me of the British comedian Mawaan Rizwan, who also has a fondness for a dramatic burst into song. There were many jokes that had me choking on laughter as well as emotional gut punches and somber reflections on life and love.
The show’s style also reminded me of FRINGE regulars Wright & Grainger of Gobbledigook Theatre. Like their dramatic performances of ancient myths McPherson blended the line between poetry, speech, and music, lending a gravitas to Dan’s dating history that had us on the edge of our seats. Every line, movement, and spotlight was carefully calibrated to play on our emotions and I felt every note resonate.
The lighting and sound design were also an intricate part of the dance, working precisely to elevate every moment, punctuating every line and shifting the mood in time with Dan’s whirlwind of emotions. One moment he is a golden-retriever type, tongue lolling in adoration, the next he is a manipulative snake, toying with our loyalties as if we too are an ex-partner.
One major strength of Perth’s world-famous FRINGE Festival is the inclusion of performances of all kinds, even those that don’t fit in a box (especially those) and Colossal is a great example of an unexpected gem. It is storytelling at its finest, and a thrilling display of talent from all sides.