Tag: Robert Smith


An intriguing time piece

By Caitlin McGrane

An intriguing presentation as part of the 2015 Midsumma Festival, the drama is uneasy and disquieting in The Fastest Clock in the Universe by Phillip Ridley. The play opens as Cougar Glass (Robert Ricks) lounges luxuriously in only his briefs under a sun lamp; his friend/man-servant/lover (?)/lackey Captain Tock (Ian Rose) appears as the portentous messenger to remind Cougar about his birthday party. The unsettling narrative continues apace as Cougar has invited only one person to his birthday, a boy of 15 named Foxtrot Darling (William Freeman). The obvious comparison is to The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the first act is certainly reminiscent of the young man who cannot bear to accept responsibility, while remaining perpetually 19. When Cougar’s age is alluded to it is only Cheetah Bee (Brenda Palmer), the landlady who lives downstairs, who can soothe him. Inside the tiny apartment, as the wind screams outside, Foxtrot arrives with an uninvited guest.

The Fastest Clock in the Universe

Each individual performance was excellent, but Scout Boxall really stole the show as the hilarious yet bonkers Sherbert Gravel in the second act. Ricks’ increasingly deranged Cougar almost became part of the furniture while she dominated the stage with her handbag, and Foxtrot, in tow. Rose’s Captain ratcheted up the tension; his glee mirroring Cougar’s insanity. It was clear the play was set in London, so I found Palmer’s Australian accent slightly out-of-place.

While the first act was dynamic, interesting and dark, the second act failed to live up to expectations. It is difficult to pin down exactly what didn’t work, but it felt like scenes ran on for too long, and after a particularly affective split-stage scene, the mood of the play shifted into absurdity as Foxtrot and Sherbert remained in a desperately uncomfortable situation. Was that the intention? One cannot be sure, but by the time Cheetah Bee delivered her final monologue, it was clear that something had gone awry. A moment that should have been poignant became somewhat clichéd.

However, overall this production is gripping and edgy; Director Robert Chuter has managed to create something both wildly funny and thrillingly tense. Robert Smith (Set Designer, Graphic Designer and Producer) has done wonders with the small space; the set is imbued with a sense of unwilling decay. There is similarly excellent work from Tom Backhaus (Sound Designer) whose soundtrack is almost reminiscent of Blade Runner. It may need some creases ironed out, but The Fastest Clock in the Universe certainly gives audiences pause.

The Fastest Clock in the Universe is showing until 31 January 2015 in The Loft at Chapel off Chapel. Tickets are $38 Full, $32 Concession, $30 Group 5+ (+ transaction fee) and available from http://chapeloffchapel.com.au/melbourne-comedy-theatre-art/melbourne-events/midsumma-festival/the-fastest-clock-in-the-universe-21-31-jan/.
Be advised: The Fastest Clock in the Universe does contain some nudity and scenes of violence against women.


The end is in sight

By Myron My

Inspired by Jose Saramago‘s novel and created by Justin Nott and Robert Smith, this play tells a story of an epidemic that takes over the world where everyone eventually – but suddenly – turns blind. Initially thought to be a contagious disease, the first people inflicted with the loss of sight are put into a large facility to be quarantined.


It is there we witness the crumbling of humanity and civilisation with people turning on each other to survive. It is here where we experience new Melbourne Fringe festival show, Blindness.

Limited to ten people per show (bookings essential), we are blindfolded and, holding hands, are guided to a room. We are then separated and the blindfolds come off. All I can see is white – and nothing else. Just a white bright light all around me. Panic immediately sets in and I take a few deep breaths trying to figure out how they have managed to do this. Did they put some sort of mask over me while the blindfold was on? It is a few minutes later I realise the simplicity and ingenuity of how they have “blinded” me. I am not even sure how many actors are in the piece as we can only hear them. The attention to my internal terror and anxiety is on par with the attention I am giving to the actors.

There is not much of a story here, and perhaps it’s because I am quite familiar with the novel and film that I am able to follow and fill in the blanks. The very loose narrative jumps over quite large gaps, so for someone who is new to Blindness, it could be difficult to understand. While the story is being told, I am free to roam around. I occasionally bump into someone and am sometimes so close to someone that I can hear their breathing but still unable to see them. The interaction with the actors (or maybe some emotional audience members?) adds to the whole experience and another example of the brilliant immersive theatre taking over the Melbourne scene.

Blindness is a work in development and there is great potential to this show but a lot more attention needs to be focused on the unfolding narrative to really make audience members appreciate what they have experienced.

Blindness is showing as part of the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Venue: Second Edition, Rear of Higher Ground, 222 Johnston St, Collingwood

Season: Until 28 September | 7;00pm and 10:00pm

Tickets: Free

Bookings: ESSENTIAL – blindness.fringe@gmail.com