Belonging to a geographer, my heart is a bottomless well of fascination for all things spatial. I will watch excruciatingly bad theatre and enjoy the minutiae of the representation of cultural stereotypes; I will stare for mesmerised hours at those bizarre landscapes in Australian national galleries that you wish were satirical, but aren’t; I even travel to places like Caroline Springs for sheer fun of it.
That all said, Sonographs was utter crap, and not even my infinite charity could stop me from walking out halfway through; either out of consideration for the performers, whose humiliation I no longer wanted to witness, or the selfish need to spare myself the pain of the experience.
The premise was utterly promising: a large number of recordings, made in different parts of metropolitan Melbourne, were edited, trimmed, manipulated, and then composed upon by the ‘enigmatic sound art outfit’ Chotto Matte, which is Japanese for “wait a little”, and expanded upon with visual footage. The result was actually very beautiful, the musicians talented, the Glitch cinema seats comfortable, leg room generous, and it could have been a great night!, had the ensemble not also include a lyricist and singer who could not sing or songwrite his way out of a paper bag, and also insisted on doing utterly embarrassing things for all parties present, such as mimic hanging himself on the microphone chord in slow-mo. I sucked my bonhomie dry trying to cut him out of the image and sound, and focus on what seemed like a rather beautiful music+image combo, sort of dissonant, lo-fi post-rock in the receding background. Alas, to no avail.
To cut the story short, there came a moment when the images of post-fire Marysville were juxtaposing on the said singer growling something along the lines (I will be misquoting for sure, as I’m trying hard to repress all memories of the incident) of ‘why am I feeling like this?’, and I grabbed my +1 and shoved us both out of the godforsaken place.
At Fringe time you win some, you lose some. The thrill of finding a gem would be nothing without the rancour of enduring the crap, and there is more than a speck of bourgeois thrill in my rage: here is the proof that authentically unplanned experiences can and still do happen in the three weeks when Fringe transforms our genteel city into a minefield of unprognosable, unforeseeable art! Alas, I cannot recommend this show. Not even my geographical largesse stretches that far.
Sonographs: Trips Along the Fault Line. Performed and Devised by Chotto Matte. Conceived by Dave R. Hicks. Glitch Bar, 25 Sep – 10 Oct.