This is the 5th show from Brisbane based company The Escapists, who it seems have been having a rather good time in recent years putting together well received and award winning shows, including Attack of the Attacking Attackers!, Elephant Gun, Neridah Waters is Dodgy, and The Prometheus Project. It is also the final production presented at the Street Theatre under the ‘Solos at The Street’ program for this year.
Instigated in part by the idea of “what can we do if we walk into a space with nothing but a piece of chalk”, Boy Girl Wall is a clever mix of good old-fashioned story-telling, physical theatre, street theatre, stand-up comedy, a Bill Bryson-esque ability to turn complex ideas into simple explanations, and utterly theatrical.
In the original version, they were almost able to get away with a man and a piece of chalk and they used the space to its full potential, even the electrical box got a part to play and the chalk was used all over the floors and walls wherever they needed. For this tour however, there was a need to introduce a few more elements to accommodate the different playing spaces but it doesn’t distract from the effectiveness and simplicity of the piece.
The sole performer, Lucas Stibbard, is a fantastic story-teller. The story is an enchanting mix of the everyday details and the fanciful. The catch phrase on the marketing stating “this is not a love story but a story about love”, is almost misleading. But the sheer imagination in the detail of the rather unlikely possibility of anyone ever colliding with love, especially two people who almost exist in different solar systems instead of the same apartment block, was a journey that I was very willing to take.
This is a very funny show. The development of the main characters and supporting characters such as a demon magpie and the days of the week (all played brilliantly by Stibbard) are extremely entertaining. There were moments though that involved direct communication with the audience that were a little bit phoney – that is, it seemed like the banter coming from the stage didn’t quite reflect the actual attitude or experience of the audience at that moment in the story-telling, but this would be my only criticism. Stibbard is charmingly supported on stage by Neridah Waters who contributes live and pre-recorded sound that adds perfectly to the story-telling of Stibbard, creating exactly the right kind of pathos and suspense to heighten the action.
Full credit should go to all the “realisers” of the show – Mathew Ryan, Lucas Stibbard, Neridah Waters, Sarah Winter, and Keith Clark (lighting) – who managed to create this show together without ever assigning the usual titles of ‘director’ or ‘actor’ etc and attempted to make the process of work as democratic as possible. In this instance it has worked very well for them. It was the winner of the 2010 Matilda Award for best Independent Production, and nominated for a 2011 Helpmann Award for Best Actor. I highly recommend this show, and although there seems to be a bit of competition in Canberra at the moment for your theatrical dollar, you will not be disappointed you chose this over the rest.
Season dates: 22 August – 1 September
Reviewer: Rochelle Whyte