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Review: The Wait, Innocent Bystander at the Sydney Fringe Touring Hub, Old 505

By Naomi Hamer

Performer and creator Tyler West is waiting for what feels like an eternity for his job interview. He doesn’t know what time he’ll be called upon but somehow everything that could go wrong, goes wrong. Even the things that should be possible - he’s inside an office lobby after all - still go wrong in this laugh out loud and boisterous blink and you’ll miss it performance. Described as if Waiting for Godot and Mr Bean were on steroids The Wait is a raucous night of physical performance you don’t want to miss.

Performed in the style of “microphoned-mime”, a term West has coined to describe his practice of storytelling through a combination of physical performance and live sound effects. We open on a bare stage with one non-descript chair. West enters stage left, looks up at the audience and runs offstage as if we’ve done something wrong. Within the first few minutes, the scene has been set with barely a word uttered. In fact, the only dialogue uttered throughout the entire show is a few words here and there, most of which is not the central character we see before us, but someone talking to him. Otherwise it’s his sound effects and physicality that do all the storytelling.

Lighting and sound are central to the success of The Wait, as elevator music suddenly transforms us from a busy office lobby to a small confined space or into a daydream, as the scene becomes vividly surreal. The calls from a damsel in distress somewhere in the distance, as our hero whistles and the slight cocking of his head and the sound of galloping as our trusty steed has been thrust into action. He gallops from afar, and a few calls to attention must be made as he gets distracted. He arrives, our damsel in distress calls out again in case we had forgotten about her but something has gotten in our hero’s way, the horse gets spooked and we’re on our own facing a giant monster. There’s something very unique in West’s ability to use the most subtle of gestures to communicate a whole story.

Not only does Tyler West hold the audience in the palm of his hand throughout his one man show but he also incorporates delicate moments of audience interaction that didn’t feel forced. In all the moments West relied on the audience (this reviewer counted at least six), even with an intimate audience it is a testament to the performer that there didn’t appear to be any hesitation. West had created a safe space, from an early moment of softly taking an audience member’s drink so they could dance together in the elevator to getting someone else to mime throwing food back and forth in each others mouths. To the point where that person acted as if they were choking, it’s anyone’s guess if he was trying to cut short his moment in the light but in any case, West saved him from choking before chastising him and continuing their food throwing game, the audience member obliging. It was a fun moment. The most magical of all was when West, having lost his resume in the wind, acquired the help of an audience member by hooking her on his fishing line and reeling her in. Of all the moments, this was perhaps the most generous and certainly the longest interaction. They rowed a boat, walked long and hard in search of his CV and had us all, including his helper on stage, in stitches.

Touring all the way from Arizona in the U.S, this is Tyler West’s first time performing in Australia. A performance that has won many international fringe show awards including Best Storytelling at the London Fringe Festival and the Cultural Exchange Award at the San Diego Fringe. If you love physical performance and pantomime or you’re looking to branch out and watch something different to what you might normally watch The Wait will not disappoint. You might even say it was worth the wait of hanging around for the 9.30 time slot.

The Wait runs from 11-15 September 2019 at the Innocent Bystander Touring Hub at the Old 505, Eliza Street, Newtown.

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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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