It’s hump day of week 3 of Fringe World 2016. We’re entering the home stretch, but it’s the busiest week for Perth Arts Live, with 9 Fringe shows and 2 PIAF shows to review. We’ll do our best to stay on top of things and keep you up to date with the current crop of shows on offer this week. We’re starting with The Cutting Room Floor’s Inside We Hide.
L’enfer, c’est les autres. – Jean-Paul Sartre, Huis Clos (No Exit)
Inside We Hide is the second Fringe offering from The Cutting Room Floor, falling in between Talk Dirty to Me at The Stables and War on Food at Paper Mountain. It’s presented as part of The Blue Room’s Summer Nights season, and was written by long-time TCRF collaborator Ann-Marie Biagioni; Scott Corbett takes the director’s chair for the piece.
The premise is fairly simple: three people are locked in a room and must confront their demons and admit their wrongdoings in order to escape. Sound familiar? Well, it is. More specifically, it very closely resembles the premise of Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit. Now, I’m not sure if Biagioni and TCRF meant to pay homage or give a nod to Sartre, or to remake the work for a modern English-speaking audience, but that is, in effect, sort of what we have.
I won’t bore anyone with comparisons between the two plays, as I haven’t had time to dust off the old Sartre overnight, myself. I think that although Inside We Hide is derivative, it’s worth consideration in its own right.
At the top of the show, Louise (Alicia Osyka) is standing over a sleeping Mary (Verity Softly), peeling a potato, letting the skins drop onto her. Mary wakes up and proceeds to freak out, because she doesn’t know where she is, or why she’s shackled at the ankle, attached to a rope that disappears through a hole in the wall. Louise tries to calm her down by addressing her with a nonchalance about the situation they find themselves in. They don’t hit it off.
Mary discovers a third person in the room, Andy (Brenn Hislop), under a cloth. He wakes up and freaks out too, and is the first to confront and confess his ‘crimes.’ The three are taunted by a giggling little girl’s voice, who apparently controls the ropes. She shows them videos of their ‘enemies,’ who are being held captive and tortured until the three admit what they’ve done and make a sacrifice of some kind. Maybe?
The rules of this room are a little bit confusing and possibly contradictory, although we understand through the performances that the stakes are very high and they feel a tremendous sense of danger and anxiety. Softly and Osyka exchange heated dialogue and sharp barbs, but it’s Osyka’s offhand, naturalistic delivery and wicked sense of humor that drives the piece. Hislop, poor guy, feels a bit superfluous in the whole thing; the ladies could have handled the room very well on their own.
All that being said, I do feel the script has merit, and so far, it’s the only script this Fringe that I’ve actually wanted to get my hands on, to have a read of it myself. Whether that’s to answer questions that were left open-ended after seeing it, or whether it’s to gain a better understanding of the essential motivations behind Biagioni’s work, I’m not sure. In any case, it’s a great insight into the scope of Biagioni’s creative talents, and it’s always a pleasure to see a new theatre company grow and stretch itself by attempting new challenges.
Inside We Hide runs until 13 Feb at 6:30pm. For more information and booking, visit The Blue Room website here.