Who: By Marianna Joslin, presented by Company 2
When: 21-25 February (See https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/fallot-fa-lo-af2018 for full details)
Where: Royal Croquet Club
How much: Full price $20-28, Concession or Group 6+ $25, Child $22
Buy tickets here: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/fallot-fa-lo-af2018
Out of all the major organs, the heart has perhaps the greatest cultural significance, rivalled only by the brain. So many of our metaphors, idioms, myths and fairy tales centre on the heart – the symbolic source of love, emotion and humanity. Even taking a strict Western medical view of the heart, its importance is difficult to overstate – the pump that delivers essential oxygen to our cells and carries away the suffocating by-products of our respiratory processes.
Marianna Joslin, as she tells us, was “born with a broken heart”: a rare condition called tetralogy of Fallot, from which the show takes its name. She has undergone two open heart surgeries, the first at the age of only six – and at least one additional surgery looms somewhere in her future. Fallot is a circus show that deals with the fallout of Joslin’s experience: how medicine, and surgery in particular, contains both miracles and trauma.
I have to admit that, despite having many great elements, the show did not quite come together for me. Joslin has a wonderful stage presence – during the brief moments of her narrations, the audience hung onto her well-crafted words. Nor can I fault the physical performances of the other four members of the cast, which were very skilled, showcasing impressive strength and grace. The score was a fitting accompaniment. It just seemed that an idea which could have been so powerful was not fully exploited – the narration about surgery and recovery seemed only loosely and occasionally linked to the physical theatre; nods to a fairy-tale sensibility or parallel remained simple nods that were not drawn out into an allegory or theme; although the individual acts were well-executed, the shifting tone from mysterious to traumatic to fun and humorous often felt jarring and did not really make for a cohesive show.
I should note that Joslin herself, who played a relatively minor part in the production I saw, had injured her knee before opening night. Based on promotional material, I understand that she is a circus performer herself and almost certainly played a larger role in the original production – it is quite likely that the changes that had to be made to accommodate her injury contributed to what I experienced as a lack of cohesion.
Three out of five stars