Adelaide Fringe. The Arch at Holden Street Theatres. 12 Mar 2022
An Unseasonable Fall of Snow is a problematic script. It initially purports to be a detective story with a young man accused of a heinous crime being harshly questioned by an interrogator who does not appear to be entirely expert at his job in what is essentially a game of cat and mouse. Then the storyline ‘turns on a dime’ and whatever we thought that was going on no longer appears to be the case: the power dynamics between the interrogator and the accused are suddenly reversed. The story then ends in quite an unexpected way, and we appear to be locked in an ever repeating loop. It’s almost a case of make up your own ending, and while your about it, invent your own theory about what it’s all about, although there is nothing wrong with that.
Playwright Gary Henderson is coy about what his play is about, and in interviews has never really given anything away, but he is quoted as saying he became interested in experimenting with “…How long could I tease [the audience] along and keep them guessing without annoying them.” Unfortunately, Henderson annoyed this reviewer but the clearly partisan large audience who saw the show with me were not. They lapped it up and their final applause was loud, sustained, and heartfelt. I guess that’s the joy of theatre – we all respond to the same thing in different ways, so go along and make up your own mind.
The performance is staged on an almost bare stage: a table and a few chairs, a whiteboard, a coffee station, and some doors. The lighting is a basic uniform wash of interior light. There is no soundscape. The cast (Gavin Cianci and Jacob Houston) are dressed in civvies. There is nothing really to suggest mystery or menace, and the play’s momentum therefore needs to come from the text – the play’s the thing, spake Hamlet! – as well as the skill of the director and the actors. However, Henderson’s script doesn’t reach any significant dramatic height, and it noticeably lacks ebb and flow of tension, and, in the emotionally heightened sections of the script, director Darrin Redgate has his cast shouting and shoving more than anything else, and it becomes a bit ….well, annoying.
Redgate, Cianci and Houston work hard to try and overcome the limitations of what is arguably an overwrought and overwritten script.
When: 13 to 20 Mar
Where: The Arch at Holden Street Theatres