Review: Pisca at the Old 505 Theatre

By Charlotte Robertson

Endearing, clever and utterly hilarious – Cameron Taylor’s Pisca is pretty much perfect.

The idea that a tall lanky man in a feathery duck costume could create such empathy and compassion from a savvy Sydney Fringe audience could be questionable but that is exactly what happened at Newtown’s Old 505 Theatre. The intimate yet sparse setting allowed Pisca to endear as an overgrown, fumbling orphaned chick facing a journey of uncertainty and new beginnings.

The simple sequence of events from breaking out of his shell to his first flight from a tree are acutely planned and rehearsed yet throughout the show he always seems ridiculously spontaneous. We are ingeniously coerced to care for this awkward overgrown chick as he escapes the guns of hunters that killed his sock puppet parents and displays his companionship with obscure and inanimate objects. Taylor engages and communicates with the audience through sock puppetry, intricate miming, a variety of beautifully constructed facial expressions, animal noises and a flutter of words. Pisca’s makeup reminded me of the members of the rock band KISS which enhanced the irony of the audience finding such an odd looking creature overwhelmingly adorable. I cherished all of his unique mannerisms, especially how he fiddled with his feathers and the way he walked with a slight hunch.

I was pleasantly surprised and incredibly impressed when Taylor began to sing as he has such an amazing voice. Catchy songs such as Love Is in the Air provided a wonderful contrast to his nasal duck speaking voice and as soon as he broke out into song for the first time, I knew we were in for a treat! The sound design is essentially paramount in this production as it added copious amounts of humour to it. My favourite example of this was when Pisca touches the sunflower leading to music filling the room only for it to stop when he drops it. We all got to join in singing Love Is in the Air which was thoroughly enjoyable as well as quacking at Pisca’s command which apparently requires more skill than you would think. 

Taylor’s interaction with the audience incorporates the use of a number of volunteers falling victim to having the laugh put on them but all is forgiven in this contradictorily clunky yet beautifully choreographed performance. Taylor is clever in engaging his audience to travel with him on his journey, particularly in his role as the master of his pet red laser pointer (so sweet!) and marriage celebrant of two lucky audience members – these bits really did quack me up. At one stage, we were asked to be fish and as I looked around the audience everyone looked so silly, it was an absolute hoot. 

Pisca is amusing, enchanting and extremely successful because of Taylor’s impeccable comedic timing and leisurely, lackadaisical composure. What I loved most about this performance is that it is obvious he is having a jolly good time and had a delightful and charming rapport with his audience. 

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.

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