Review: collageN at Fringe World

Carol Flavell Neist

A melange of theatrical forms, this visceral performance is wrapped up in a skin of its own.
Review: collageN at Fringe World

I hadn’t planned on visiting the Fringe, but I was intrigued to receive an invitation to the opening night of collageN. The name alone was enough to engage me. Collagen is something all higher forms of life have to have. After all, it’s what holds flesh, bones and skin together.

Essentially a one-woman show, collageN is the brain child of Laura Strobech, who will from next month be studying acting at the Victorian College of the Arts. The work is definitely a student piece, filled with ideas and original thought, but perhaps not as cohesive as it could have been through having, if anything, too many bright ideas!

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Let’s begin at the beginning. Strobech lay under a plastic sheet in one corner; the audience filled the remaining space, mostly seated on the floor. Some of them had to shift in a hurry when Strobech started to slither, snake-like, on her belly. She took a garment from an audience member (I should add that most of the audience consisted of young adults who were, I suspect, friends and fellow students.) There were bits of inane conversation about sitting vs standing, and suggestions that audience members could take the sheets of thin plastic that were the set and do whatever they liked with them.

Our hostess then scrambled up a step ladder and perched atop. From her lofty seat, like an empress, she requested – and got – a pear, but immediately demanded it be changed for an apple. However, she settled for a nectarine, which, after taking a bite, she shared with audience members. (Don’t tell the occupational health and safety crowd –I suspect they would not approve one little bit!)

She proceeded to wrap the nectarine seed in plastic and to ‘plant’ it in another plastic sheet, which she then put over her head like a bridal veil. Audience members were encouraged to trace her facial features through the plastic, using a black marker pen.

After a return to the starting pose, lying supine behind a plastic curtain, Strobech sat up for several minutes then lay down again. She sat up again and vocalized for a while, then stood up and did a bit more vocalising. Finally, she fell silent and still, as if engaging in silent meditation. Loud applause.

I saw many such creations when a student at NIDA, and later, WAAPA, and later, I came to see that Fringe Festivals are excellent mediums for showing experimental pieces to outside audiences. In fact, this kind of avant-garde production is one of the reasons the Fringe Festival exists. Performers can use Fringes for experimentation on many levels, both personal and professional. Furthermore, we are much blessed in this country to have tertiary courses in all states for students to refine and polish their talents. I shall look forward to seeing more work from Laura Strobech when she returns from VCA.

3 ½  stars

collageN
Performed and Presented by Laura Strobech
Paper Mountain, Northbridge
17-19 February 2018
Part of Fringe World 2018

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author


Carol Flavell Neist has written reviews and feature articles for The Australian, The West Australian, Dance Australia, Music Maker, ArtsWest and Scoop. She was reviews editor for the now defunct Specusphere magazine and, writing as Satima Flavell, has also published poetry and fantasy fiction.

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