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Fringe review: Train Lord

Adelaide Fringe

Saturated in emotional truth and unapologetically low-fi, Train Lord is testament to the powerful potential of Fringe shows that hark back to the no-frills days of the festival’s past. ★★★★

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Among a certain section of Adelaide art audiences, the Fringe is no longer experienced in the present.

Instead it is a memory; a long-lost place that was washed away by time and success, but which contained an Artists’ Bar that was small (and populated, mainly, by artists) and shows that were strange. There were fewer Massaokes and Blanc de Blancs and a more navigable number of tiny, unexpected performances created by artists who had absolutely no reputation preceding them.

Train Lord harks back to those nostalgic days.

Created by Oliver Mol, a long-time writer and first-time performer, Train Lord is staged in a tiny corner room of the Bakehouse Theatre. Here, Oliver and a small collection of audience members eyeball each other and – almost of necessity – enter a state of suspended judgment.

And then Oliver tells his story.

Structured largely as a monologue, the non-linear plot journeys through moments in Oliver’s life. Ostensibly centred around a 10-month-long migraine that he suffered, the show blooms into a highly intimate and emotional consideration of the relationship between pain, life, and the methods we use to escape them both.

The stage craft and Oliver’s performative presence are alternatively mesmerising and awkward, and the production values are decidedly low. But there is something much stronger than set dressing or dialogue delivery sitting at the centre of the show. The undeniable emotional resonance of Train Lord stems directly from Oliver’s ability to do the thing that all writers strive toward – to tap into a private world and remake it in a form that is wonderfully and painfully public.

There is no disguising the reality that underpins Train Lord. It is unpolished, heart-rendingly genuine, and underwritten by powerful emotional truths that will transcend all kinds of superficial differences among audience members.

It perfectly fulfils the naïve promise of that half-remembered, half-imagined version of Fringe that haunts the memories of so many.

Train Lord is showing at the Studio at the Bakehouse Theatre until February 29.

 See more InDaily Fringe and Festival stories and reviews here. 

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