A blend of performance and visual art that seeks to inspire a sense of wonder at the universe.
Citizen Theatre brings outer space to Kingston in Forgotten Places. Image: Stu Brown.
Citizen Theatre describes its production of Forgotten Places as ‘inspired by Kingston’s unique history of UFO sightings’, but there’s nothing else linking this to the disappearance of Frederick Valentich in 1978, the area’s chief claim to fame in this department. Instead, this is a quirky, small-scale exploration of what lies beyond our planet. Billed as a ‘living gallery’, the production includes elements of music, dance, spoken word and physical comedy, with time between the short performances to walk around and admire the setting.
Designer Stu Brown makes good use of limited space, illuminating the darkened room with fairy lights and soft curtains, glowing orbs and ‘wormhole’ pods. The room feels confined at first but opens up part way through the show. However, the map given to audience members – complete with recommended Instagram points – is unnecessary given the size of the venue. (It also shows features of the room that are hidden at first, so without a map, there is potential to make this a more dramatic reveal.) Music director Imogen Cygler, tucked away in the corner, begins with the typical eerie electronica before seguing into live piano and singing, which provide a much lovelier soundtrack.
Actors Freya Pragt, Willow Sizer and Jack Wunsch are the resident extraterrestrials, complete with plastic suits, goggles and gumboots. They alternate between tiptoeing around the room crooning at the humans and taking to the centre stage to perform short pieces. They perform individually and together, and each has their specialty: Wunsch’s contemporary dance number is mesmerising, and Sizer displays a wide vocal range with her singing. Pragt gives a series of energetic performances as her character visits different planets in search of the ‘ultimate experience’, ascending levels like a video game. She manages some impressive tongue-twisting gibberish, but if there’s meant to be a punchline, it gets lost in translation. On the other hand, the poem she performs with Sizer about trace elements on Earth is clever and (thankfully) intelligible, and goes down well with the audience.
While it won’t tell you any secrets about UFOs or other urban legends, Forgotten Places is a whimsical venture that reminds you to step back and consider your place in the universe. The show is supported by the Kingston Arts Grant program, and it’s always good to see local councils trying new things. Kids in particular will delight in the sensory experience, and remind the slightly older and more cynical among us that space is full of mysteries to be marvelled at.
3 stars out of 5 ★★★
Forgotten Places: Journey Beyond the Stars
Director: Jayde Kirchert
Music Director/Composer: Imogen Cygler
Visual Designer: Stu Brown
Actors: Freya Pragt, Willow Sizer, Jack Wunsch
4-7 September 2019
Kingston Arts Centre VIC