Review by Abbie Gallagher
If I pass you a ball, do you pass it back?
If I make myself vulnerable, are you open?
Melody feels out of place. She feels disconnected from a community that she thought she belonged to. She is worried about not being able to say how she really feels.
DEMO is her reaction.
Attending a show at the Sydney Fringe is a bit of a gamble at times. Being an open program fringe, shows can either be hit or miss. However, I am very happy to report that DEMO is most definitely a hit.
A one woman show starring Melody Rachel, DEMO is a mainly physical theatre piece exploring themes of spirituality, sexuality, belonging and even difference of opinions.
Erskineville Town Hall is an appropriate venue for such an intimate and personal production. Undeterred by the sadly small audience, Melody enters the bare space, and immediately has the audience’s full attention when the physical theatre starts. All eyes were on the subtle, slow and abstract movements, beautifully enhanced by the silence and use of UV lights. In between the moments of physical theatre, Melody included audience participation, starting with a body percussion call-and-response, followed by a very entertaining segment of handing out cards with polar opposite opinions on it. Objective truth, or the earth is flat? Pineapple on pizza, or pizza the way God intended? It’s all in good fun, at least until the cards become more serious, and a subsequent Love Actually style sequence hits harder than you might expect.
My favourite aspect of the entire performance was the fact that it was completely dialogue-free. This is one of the many refreshing elements of DEMO. Through the magic of theatre, much information, sometimes more, can be expressed through movement, images, atmosphere…and thank goodness for that. Sometimes, words are not enough. And through such story-telling devices, it only increases the scope for interpretation. My experience and understanding of a piece may be completely different from my neighbours, but both are equally valid.
Another element that deserves high praise is the subject matter. I truly don’t recall ever seeing the themes of sexuality and spirituality intertwined in a theatrical production. Melody seeks to explore these by drawing on her own experiences, and I can only applaud her bravery and vulnerability. I sincerely hope she develops this work further, and other productions.
It is uncommon to see such a unique production at the Fringe, and one I hope to see more of in the future. It’s well paced, well performed and holds your interest. In fact, I only have two very minor gripes. One, I would have loved to see a programme giving a little more insight towards the symbolism and creative process. The second, the short running time. But even that being said, DEMO takes advantage of every minute it has, and it is worth every minute of your time.