Review by Cicely Binford
The Cutting Room Floor expands their repertoire this Fringe season with a new creation by performer/deviser Megan Hollier and director/devisor Gemma Hall in Odd Socks. This short and sweet two-hander is playing at the ‘Engine Room’ at the State Theatre Centre, and features Megan Hollier as Mia and George Ashforth as Charles.
Odd Socks doesn’t aim to push the boundaries of theatrical convention – in fact it stays well within conventional territory – but let’s remember that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. We could even argue that conventional theatre is a refreshing change from the current norm; that traditional staging, dialogue and character conflict are a breath of fresh air in this ‘radical’ Fringe climate. Odd Socks is certainly doing its best to get us back to the basics of Theatre 101.
The formula is relatively simple: two people of opposite nature meet under unexpected circumstances and are somehow forced to reveal themselves in a short space of time. Here we have Charles, a creature of habit and order, quietly going about his business of folding clothes and learning Spanish through a phone app. Enter Mia, a pink-haired free spirit who mistakes his apartment for the one she’s supposed to be house-sitting.
Charles is caught off guard, but being a polite gentleman, he makes Mia a delicious pina colada and listens to her unrestrained commentary about life, dating, and herself. Eventually she draws Charles’s story out of him, somehow managing to get him to dance to ‘Hold On’ by Wilson Phillips. Despite this tentative connection, their opposing perspectives result in conflict and some flying sparks.
Ashforth and Hollier are a good match for each other, a perfect yin and yang for the stage. Ashforth bites his tongue but lets us see exactly what his character is processing internally; Hollier appears outwardly oblivious but is actually listening closely to Charles’s subtle cues. We’re hoping they manage to find common ground and learn something valuable from each other, but it looks like they’ll return to business as usual. Perhaps we should be on the lookout for a follow-up at next year’s Fringe to find out for sure.