Review by Taylor Kendal
A red envelope delivered to your mailbox. Your name is on the front. Inside is a USB.
Frankly this sounds like the premise of some strange prompt to launch a mystery thriller movie, when really it is the beginning of what is undoubtedly the most original way to bring a piece of work to its audience that you or I will likely see for a very long time.
From the minds of experimental collective Pony Cam comes ‘The Red Square’ a theatre experience truly unlike any other, delivered to your door by means of a singular USB device and a three Act PowerPoint presentation that will leave you thinking about it for hours on end long after you’ve safely removed the device from your computer.
Pony Cam Collective is currently comprised of six members from around Australia, and are self described as ‘an experimental collective with a work driven by a desire to bring people together to create experiences that could not otherwise be had’. And they certainly have done so with this.
Very aptly branded ‘South Park meets Greek Tragedy’, The Red Square is an experience like no other. Filled with hilarity, gut wrenching twists and moments that will likely leave you thinking, ‘what the..?’
With ‘A Red Square’, you are in control of the narrative, telling the seemingly simple life story of a red square (pronouns unknown, onward referred to as them/they). From first glance, this presentation seems simple enough. With each click the audience is able to move the journey along, much like that of stop motion in a sense, and goes along follow their life as they fall in love, get married and adopt a child and for the most part, everything seems like it’s going pretty damn perfectly.
Oh, how if only it could stay that way.
Without giving too much away, The Red Square (and audience) is in for one hell of a ride. What seems weird at first soon becomes near second nature, you find yourself drawn into this ridiculous, captivating story and you need to know what happens with the next click, no matter how strange or utterly horrifying it might be.
It’s a little unconventional to review a show where there are no actors, no set design or any real traditional elements of performance that one would expect to face when writing a review, yet I still wonder if anything I am writing here is able to do it any justice.
This performance will leave you confused. It is baffling and cringey in parts and will likely have you pausing to stop and think and reassess everything you thought about the production - and perhaps everything you ever thought about yourself, but let’s not get too deep here.
It seems so odd at first to simply sit there and click while a red square moves on a screen, but soon the story develops and you are brought into this world which is not your own…but it is your own, and you honestly forget that this is not somebody that you know. You genuinely feel for The Red Square. You feel the heartache and the determination that pushes them along and you find yourself wanting so desperately for them to win.
There is a moment when the Square realizes that they are part of a PowerPoint and everything from then on becomes twisted and meta; everything is incredibly self aware (to the point where the Red Square is Google searching Pony Cam cast members) and it’s an absolute roller coaster until the last click.
Those familiar with Pony Cam’s work will certainly appreciate the nods to previous productions and the element of self-awareness that is woven throughout the performance. I’m sure, had I been familiar with the company before this, I would have had a much higher respect for the references.
It’s important to note that The Red Square deals with a lot of outrageous tropes, and quite a few themes which be potentially triggering to audience members, including those of violence, self harm or suicide, sexual references, death and murder. If you are easily offended or squeamish, or have trouble with this type of subject matter, I would highly advise proceeding with caution.
One thing that I absolutely cannot fault is the promotion and the marketing presentation for this performance. I will admit I knew absolutely nothing about it until approached about this review, and the research that followed as well as the delivery of the show was just *chef’s kiss* spectacular. The Pony Cam social media pages have short videos which show absolutely nothing yet reel you in, and the delivery of a red square envelope and letter with the USB is so on point I have to give credit where credit is due, well done Pony Cam.
This is one performance that I honestly cannot recommend highly enough. Check out Pony Cam’s social media for updates on how many spots are left; limited USB’s available. If you are lucky enough to experience this, you are in for a treat.