Fringe Review: Nuclear Family

Nuclear Family starts off quite calmly – a brother and sister work in a security office and engage in typical sibling banter.

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Presented by Joanne Hartstone, Sunday’s Child & Fever Dream
Reviewed 22 February 2017

Nuclear Family starts off quite calmly – a brother and sister work in a security office and engage in typical sibling banter. It’s not just any security office, though – they work in a nuclear power plant and as the show progresses, things escalate quickly.

It soon becomes clear that things are not going according to plan, and then the action onstage stops. We, the audience, are handed dossiers of information and asked to decide how the characters will respond to the situation. The decisions seem simple at first, but soon turn into morally fraught choices that lack an obviously right answer.

So far, so good and the timed breaks in the action when we talk to strangers trying to decide what happens next are exhilarating

Unfortunately, the entire show is preceded by an explanation that the nuclear meltdown has already occurred and we’re merely trying to find out whether the siblings are to blame.

Framed clumsily as a Royal Commission, this structure takes a lot of the fun out of what could otherwise be a thrilling choose your own adventure. Rather than racing against time trying to save lives, we’re merely attempting to absolve the central characters of responsibility for the disaster (and never even get an answer on that front).

There’s also a nagging feeling that though the dialogue is affected by our input, the story follows a similar path no matter what our decisions and as a result this intriguing concept lacks a great payoff for the audience.

Reviewed by Alexis Buxton-Collins

Rating out of 5: 2

Venue: Adelaide Botanic Garden – Noel Lothian Hall
Season: runs until Sunday 19 March
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: $26
Bookings: https://www.adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/nuclear-family

 

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