A Grim Era

EziPark Wakefield St Carpark - Level 10, 10 Feb 2012

A Grim Era is the debut production from fledgling Melbourne-based company Smallpox Theatre.  The creative brainchild of owner/collaborators Gemma Lark and David Rosenblatt, aka David Splatt, this highly visual, unspoken piece is a well-crafted mix of mime, physical theatre and puppetry. 

Featuring a well-designed set in the unlikely venue of Level 10 of the Wakefield Street Ezi-park, this dark, vaudeville-style show is a story of love in hard times.  Within the confines of their grim reality, two vagabond clowns, Isn't and Is, fall in love with all the idealism of two smitten youths. 

Inevitably, the first blooms of love fade and grim reality sets in.  This is where the show begins to shine, as the pair struggle to hold the relationship together in the face of hardship, monotony, loss and self-harm.

While theatre in a car park might not sound all that inviting, Splatt and Lark have made a surprisingly comfortable space from the concrete landscape.  Each piece in the set is used to great effect, from vintage suitcases doubling as tables and wash sinks to two gorgeous marionettes modelled in each performers image to exacting detail, down to matching costuming and physical features.

Both Splatt and Lark are superb performers. Splatt, in particular, is a master puppeteer.  His experience and skill is obvious in his facial control and his ability to fully characterize through his marionette. 

As Isn’t and Is, both performers easily convey as much, if not more, through mime than most achieve with straight acting.  Clever costuming and use of props combined with a well-honed understanding of facial and body language allow them to materialise a huge amount of emotion and meaning without uttering a word. 

This is a highly enjoyable show, full of beautiful little moments that take it from wonderful to brilliant. As the endearing and heart-breaking story unfolds, Splatt and Lark will make you laugh and cry.

Go and see A Grim Era before the opportunity is lost - this genuinely different show is a winner.

Nicole Russo

When: 14 to 18 Mar
Where: EziPark Wakefield St Carpark - Level 10
Bookings: www.adelaidefringe.com.au