Fringe Theatre Review: A Night at the Venue

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 3.44.58 pmPhoto Credit: The Three Cs

A myriad of Adelaide Fringe stereotypes are featured and subsequently mocked in The Three Cs’ chaotic production, “A Night At The Venue”. Starring Robbie Greenwell, Yvonne McAulay, and Chiara Gabrielli, this scathing look at Fringe season plays out like a hurried high school production with low, albeit quaint production values. Written by Bryan Lynagh, the play starts with errant venue employee, Georgina, grinding up against the bar to Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love”. This introduces the first of various characters whom protagonist Mark frustratingly encounters throughout the production.

The play presents Mark as the tenant of a Tuxedo Cat-like venue engaging in a sort of David versus Goliath type battle against the Fringe higher ups. Ultimately he is the one who comes across as most self-indulgent, leaving the audience with very little sympathy for him. His constant irritation is expressed through his breaking of the fourth wall where he informs the audience of his fondness of the arts and simultaneously, the difficulty of running an arts venue. Greenwell is convincing here as Mark, and his passion for the local arts and his venue acted with an admirable emotional intensity.

The next individual Mark meets is the grating Belle, a suit from Arts Initiative Australia who uses phrases such as “synergy” and “fostering greater things”. It is immediately clear that she represents everything Mark detests, and McAulay does a decent enough job of parodying the stereotypical government employee whose purpose it seems is to shatter the dreams of the little arts venue owner. Other characters who cross paths with Mark include an authoritative, butch Legal Licensing and Compliance Officer; Tom, a lout of a reviewer with OutDaily (clearly a send up of InDaily); an entitled yet stingy producer of a show; and Alison Dodwell, the incredibly dim and pretentious star of the featured show within a show, “Alison Dodwell is Undesirable”. So far, so meta.

In between meeting the various characters, Mark repeatedly resorts to breaking the fourth wall to express his complaints and general anger towards the lack of support for his venue. This becomes increasingly irksome as he later reveals that he himself chose this masochistic path, eschewed university to run the venue, and finally contemplates a government job like Belle’s. Mark essentially becomes the play’s ultimate caricature and stereotype: the middle class white boy who experiments with the arty, vagabond lifestyle.

The cast utilises the space – a 5m x 2m stage with a couple of chairs and a small bar holding a water station  – as best they can with the female cast members entering and leaving the stage with a frequency that was dizzying at times. Overall, “A Night At The Venue” is clear in stating The Three Cs’ love for the local arts scene, however it could have been more subtle in its message and critique of its adversaries.

2.5 out of 5 stars

-Masya Zabidi

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