Higher Ground, Light Square
Reviewed Tuesday February 23rd 2010 (See Fringe guide for dates, times, etc.)
Presented by Guy Masterson’s Centre for International Theatre and Theatre Tours International.
Bookings: Fringetix & Venuetix outlets
Do not be fooled: there is far more to this production that at first appears. Written and directed by John Clancy and performed by David Calvitto it at first seems to be a light and very funny comedy as an unnamed man, referring to himself only as ‘The Man’, steps into the spotlight and begins to dissect what he is doing. The event of the title, we discover, is this very theatrical event that we are watching and, as he performs, he constantly breaks to tell us about the processes behind each part of his performance.
For anybody who has ever had any involvement in making theatre, this is all so familiar and extremely funny, but it is equally hilarious for those who are not practitioners. That second group is not overlooked in his observations as he also analyses the discrete groups of people, including critics, to be found in most audiences and elaborates on the things that they do during a performance and their relationship to the performer.
We are told not only what he is doing, how he is doing it and why he says what he does, but we also get a rundown of the behind the scenes work of the stage hand and the lighting technician. Slowly, however, we find that an element of philosophical deliberation has slipped into his performance and, although the deconstruction of the performance itself continues, the depth of the production has gradually, imperceptibly increased.
The whole fabric of modern society is drawn into question, and we are encouraged to join in on that questioning, during and beyond the performance. His observations are acute, accurate and often quite disturbing. Calvitto’s performance is masterful as he draws the audience in like playing a fish on a line, pulling closer, allowing a little line out and then slowly reeling us in completely through his comic devices until we are safely caught in his net and landed in his discussion of the greater issues.
Calvitto is a highly skilled and extremely personable actor who effortlessly slips in and out of character with a slight change of facial expression or body movement, a word, a gesture. This performance is slick, smooth and highly memorable and will generate considerable discussion after the show. This is yet another production that should be on your top ten list, along with the other seven brought here this year by Guy Masterson.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, GLAM Adelaide Arts Editor.