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Review: Escalate at the Arts Centre Fairfax Studio - Melb Fringe

Updated: Oct 13, 2022

Review by Mish Graham

From the first moment that you step into the Fairfax Studio at the Arts Centre, you can sense the audience anticipation in the air. That excitement only grew, revealing quite early on that this indeed, would be a show that enveloped the senses.

Seats were allocated and I must mention that before the main act, I was highly entertained by adults climbing over the chairs for a better view. When I said aloud “What is happening?” A lady turned, smiled and said, “They just announced from the back that we can move forward to fill up the front seats”. It was a joy to see people of all ages and backgrounds smiling and laughing as they poured past us, flowing like honey to the front. This beginning held strong fringe community feels and this audience were especially sweet.

As the lights went down, darkness fell on the stage and there stood one man, only a shadow until the spotlight hit. From that moment on we were taken on a journey of light, sound, skill and adventure. With incredible pace and intentionality Throw Catch Collective had the room laughing, gasping and held in suspense, all at once.

The three showed consistency in their energy levels and gave everything to the performance. The way the lighting and sound design moved with the players was particularly impressive. It indeed was a cohesive, sensory experience that left the audience wanting more. While I appreciate the level of sensory exploration, something every show should rise to; I would like to have seen more awareness of Deaf audience members and perhaps have sounds displayed visually on the three screens up centre stage. Adding to the sensory impact while being more accessible.

There was a kind of awe in the room at the sheer skill of those before us. The intricacy of each movement, at times like a dance, others like a fight. Even when it went wrong it was enjoyable because we could see their joy and support of each other. This brought some questions to mind, are they themselves? Are they characters? Are they aiming for something more uniform? Is there a narrative they want us to follow or is it skill after skill, something non-linear? In this case I was content for it to be either but I was curious as I watched on.

With amazing physicality and spacial awareness the sequences built one on another. I was reminded of physical theatre, they undeniably created a special relationship between the body and the objects, the sound and the lighting; all so interconnected, and well thought through. Moments of stillness and moments of chaos, I was delighted by the audiences’ real time response. Mostly, I loved how much the audience loved it.

Escalate is the thrill of the modern circus with depth in place of pomp. It is for any and everyone but especially for mothers who find their sons flipping water bottles and anything else they can get their hands on. I believe you would find comfort and hope from this energising performance. Well worth an evening in the pretty city for this show.

Image Supplied


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