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Fringe review: No.33

Adelaide Fringe

Equal parts intriguing and baffling, No.33 relies on its audience members’ curiosity to solve the mystery of what happened to the inhabitants of an old house. ★★★

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No.33 is the creation of RAWcollective — a theatre group founded in 2002 by Ru Atma, former dancer, now choreographer and performance maker. Described as an interactive installation performance, the show has been devised by Atma with co-creator Brigitte Jarvis (performer) and Melbourne artists Pippa Samaya (photographer and filmmaker), Mick Foster (sound design), Richard Vaudrey (cellist and composer) and Deanne Butterworth (contemporary dancer and choreographer).

RAWcollective is one of Adelaide Fringe Festival’s artist fund recipients for 2020. The group’s aim is present women’s stories through theatre experiences that immerse the audience in the storytelling to “encourage self-reflection and growth”.

On entering the venue we’re greeted with an invitation to jot down a personal message to a woman in our life. The notes are added to an installation in the foyer, then we remove our shoes and follow our guide — a silent, candle-carrying woman wearing a long, white lace dress.

As we walk down a dark hallway we pass a series of family portraits on the walls and then make ourselves comfortable (sitting or standing — the choice is ours) in a white room. There’s a bed, soft shag-pile carpet and sheets draping the walls.

What follows can perhaps be described as a jigsaw puzzle with not enough pieces. Through a mix of projections, short film sequences, recorded sounds and music, live performance and a brief rummage through some historical artefacts, we learn of key events in the lives of Isobel, Evelyn, Sarah and Amy — four women who lived in the house at No.33 over a time span of more than 100 years.

There’s a suggestion of intergenerational trauma as we witness moments of tragedy and grief, and it seems we’re being encouraged to feel empathy for the women. Forming a connection is a bit of struggle, however.

Isobel’s story receives more time than the experiences of her descendants, and this results in a loss of focus towards the end of the work. We exit through a small exhibition space that contains information that fills in the gaps.

If you’re willing to do some work to uncover the secrets hidden between the walls of No.33, you’ll enjoy this open-ended theatre experience. If you prefer more traditional storytelling, this might not be the show for you.

No.33 is showing at nthspace Gallery at nthspace Adelaide until February 23.

See more InDaily Fringe and Festival stories and reviews here.

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