Saturday, 25 September 1999

Parallax Island, Oct 25 1999

by Maude Davey and David Pidd
Melbourne Fringe Festival
at North Melbourne Town Hall until October 3, 1999
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Have you ever looked at something through water or glass and thought it was much closer than it actually was? Well, that's the parallax view. It alters one's perspective, changes shapes and distances.

On Parallax Island, Maude Davey and David Pidd attempt, in a very gentle way, to shift perspective on gender and relationships. It is a charming little show with a few songs and no dense or heavy content.

There is a narrative through-line as well as several diversions. A man rowing a galvanised iron boat arrives on an island with a sole inhabitant: a woman. She tells him, in no uncertain terms, to go. He insists on staying. They are both there to be alone. They haggle over ownership of the island then over their roles.

She refuses to look after him then offers him food, water and love. When they decide to leave together, she feels as if she cannot win. If he rows the boat, she will be seen as a maiden being rescued. If she rows, she will be a "ball-breaker". Ah, feminism!  Nothing changes.

"Relationships make us into babies", the woman says. They bicker, behaving like children, taunting, scoring points and then forgiving. They tell stories about being male or being female. They swap roles/genders, use flashcards to tell the story and interrupt their journey to greet late- (very late) comers.

Both performers have an honesty, warmth and freshness that makes this enjoyable to watch. To quote the program notes, "This was an experiment to see whether we could make a show with the minimum of stress and worry. So every time we started worrying, we stopped." It shows.

One of the highlights is the songs. They create an a capella number out of the words "I love you" and accompany the opening and closing song (Sail across the Water by Jane Siberry) with a strange double bass built from a oil can and wood. (made by Guy Albert).

The set is simple, the message clear and the show short. You can't go wrong with this show in the Fringe.

by Kate Herbert

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