Melbourne Fringe 2016: THE LONELIEST NUMBER

One strong-woman’s strong one-woman show

By Joana Simmons

Hannah Cryle is one impressive woman. She has gutsily broken away from her established career as an ensemble performer and created a solo show debut, The Loneliest Number. Packed with full-power rock numbers and a bunch of nifty tricks, she successfully proves she can do an ensemble show alone.

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Opening with “Don’t Stop Believing” establishes a fantastic anthem for her and the ethos of the show. Her commitment to air instruments is as big and bold as her hair and fluro costume. Hannah is the circus strong-woman; she can ‘base a 3 high’- that is where she stands on the ground with a person standing on top of her shoulders, and another person on top of their shoulders. She tells us how all the cool things she can do require other people to make them truly impressive. Still, we quickly see she is a strong woman in all senses of the phrase and can do plenty of cool things on her own- hula hoops, super skipping and hilarious facial expressions are a few worth noting. Her earnest character is lovable, and she delivers her amusing anecdotes with great timing and skill. The late-night audience members show their support in whoops and laughs, and prove to be the best back up dancers anyone could have asked for. Some small stand-out quirky moments with her beautiful underlying message of respect make it a memorable theatrical experience.

Because of Hannah’s versatility there is a lot of props and ‘stuff’ in this show. She energetically changes from one to another and keeps her friendly chatter going the whole time but some of the transitions were clunky and she was offstage a lot. At ‘half time’ she cleverly gave us something to do, which bought the intimate audience together, and perhaps a few more of these peppered throughout the changes could make them smoother.  I loved how she took her time to catch her breath when she was speaking, but her face and character could be more extreme: a general rule when accompanied by epic rock ballads is: “more is more.”

Hannah Cryle tells us she is “a bit strong, a bit brave” and inspires us to be too. I say she is a lot strong and a lot brave and has a special gift to share. She encourages us to support #ladiesperformingsolo, there’s a ton of them this Fringe who are all doing brave, funny, important things like she is. As a first solo show, it’s a terrific start, and in my opinion, what Melbourne Fringe is all about. I mean, when else can you dance to “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen under a big top in Collingwood on a Wednesday night?

Hannah Cryle – The Loneliest Number

Venue: Melba Spiegletent, 35 Johnston St, Collingwood

Season: 21st September-2nd October