Movement Matter Group – Unhinged

"UNHINGED"

The takeaways

  • A “choose your own adventure” template is a great way to make immersive theatre immediate
  • Intentionally troubling, which was personally satisfying
  • The passion of the makers and performers was clearly visible

 

In my pockets

I had heard a lot of things about this show, both positive and negative, and was excited to experience it for myself. I’m a fan of horror theatre and excited by the idea of immersive, journeying performance. I’m also a fan of Teddy Fatcher and had a friend in the cast. I was coming off closing three Fringe shows, so I was excited that there was a show running right through the end of the festival for me to see. I’m also notoriously hard to shock and offend. My pockets were full for this one.

 

Design

It was not immediately clear who all of the designers were. Apologies for the lack of clarity.

Lights: Alyssandra Docherty is a master of mood lighting. It’s always smart and focused. Especially striking were the differences between the three starting rooms. 

Sound: The music and sound complimented the visual storytelling of Unhinged in a striking way, both fun and surprising. I was most struck by being able to hear bits and pieces of rooms B and C while I was in room A. Screams, shouts, grunts, and music all trickled into our room, teasing at what we could have seen.

Costumes: The costumes were minimal, though aided in building character. Most of the dancers were in various dark underwear while a high-powered business woman sauntered in and out of room A, made distinct by her clothes.

Set: The set was a murder shed of the highest degree: a maze and a labyrinth of open rooms, discarded mattresses, barbed wire, and black tarps. Spooky and shanty. A TV set stuck on static was a particular standout.

 

Performances

I have little to dissect about the performances – a troupe of beautifully elegant and striking dancers brought this murder shed to life. Impressive.

 

Accountability

We were all gathered in the lobby of the Schmidt’s Commons building. There was no plumbing, no ceilings, and so Matter Movement Group had to create this world from scratch. The audience was welcomed by an older man with ghoulish makeup who gave a speech about the Fringe festival and its roots. He reminded us that theatre is not a safe space and we were not expected to be taken care of in this show. It was also said that we were to experience either an epic failure or a great experiment, but in the spirit of Fringe, it is also pure passion thrown into a room. In retrospect, I’m glad that the piece was bookended with speeches that provided context (Teddy Fatcher gave a speech at the end of the show) because without them, I don’t think I would have been as moved. The opening speech generated excitement, set the tone, and provided context in a way that wasn’t pandering or telling us what to think about what we were about to experience.

Devised by the ensemble, the piece itself is interesting and disturbing. People are chained up and chased, donning freakishly cheery masks as they taunt the audience and each other. Stand out pieces include a dance with two people in a radioactive barrel, and a breakdancer eating a piece of paper and rubbing red paint over his face on top of an American flag.

At the end of the show, before the curtain call, a small carpet was rolled out over the soaking wet marley floor for the dancers to bow. As they exited, they set up a single “Wet floor” sign for the audience. A sign of care.

Fatcher stood in the middle of the floor and addressed the audience, hair still wild from an emotionally taxing performance. His soft voice addressed us: “If you were offended by anything you saw here tonight, good. So am I. I’m offended and scared and need to say something. Have a good night.”

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