BWW Review: ADELAIDE FRINGE 2020: POST-MORTEM at The Studio, Holden Street Theatres
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Wednesday 12th February 2020.
Playwright, Iskandar R. Sharazuddin, also appears as Alex in his play, Post-Mortem, directed by Jessica Rose McVay, and with Essie Barrow, as Nancy. It is a composite work, largely text-based, with dance/movement interludes separating scenes, which switch to and fro through time, indicated by projected titles. Post-mortem literally means after death, but it is often used as an abbreviation for post-mortem examination. This play is the post-mortem examination of a relationship.
It begins rather strangely, with a young woman, whom we discover to be Nancy, announcing that she is buying a new Hoover and that she enjoys Hoovering. For readers outside England, Hoovering means vacuum cleaning.
Alex and Nancy are in high school together, dissecting a pig's heart in the biology class, when things go wrong, and a mess is created. This brings them together. A heartbeat is heard at times. They tell bad puns. Shakespeare is quoted. A relationship begins, and ends.
A decade later, they meet unexpectedly, as best man and maid of honour at the wedding of two of their friends, where they become accidentally locked in the disabled persons' toilet and look back at the past, recalling significant instances during their time together, discussed in random order. Hearing the music from outside, they dance the Macarena. It's no all deep and meaningful. There is plenty of humour.
They each have different understandings, differing perceptions of events, and there are secrets. We are privy to these often-opposing memories as they unfold before us, and the pair try to establish truths.
Sharazuddin and Barrow create an intimacy between their characters, Alex and Nancy, bringing an authenticity to the performance, with well-developed characterisations. In its early days, the Fringe was once filled with much experimental work, exciting, imaginative. There is still some of that if one looks hard enough, and this fits that bill. One might argue that some transitions are not as smooth as they might be, or that it is a little long in places, but that is offset by the acceptance of the challenge to create something original and remarkable. All concerned are to be applauded for their bravery to push boundaries.
Eleanor Bull's stark design is a white rectangle within which the action takes place, and two transparent Perspex chairs, leaving plenty of space for the physical part of the work, and Will Alder created the elaborate sound plot.
For a genuine Fringe experience, a rare thing nowadays, add this to your list.