Small Talk

Small TalkPresented by That Girl. The Bakehouse Theatre Studio. 6 Mar 2014

If the Adelaide Fringe is the place to premiere brand new shows, then The Bakehouse Theatre Studio is the place to “jump off the cliff with a brand new show” (in the words of the creator/ performer, Lana Schwarcz with her current production ‘Small Talk’).

‘Small Talk’ is a mixture of puppetry, multiple characters, fun with the set and props, and fun with the audience across the fourth wall. The premise of ‘Small Talk’: What if the inner child within each adult was revealed and extracted; brought into the rough and tumble of the outer world? How would it cope? How would the host parent cope? And what if the child was prevented from returning to the inner world? What are the ramifications of losing our inner child as adults?

The setting is the Overside Community Centre’s new Mother’s Club for inner children, run by the zany, weird and not-quite-there convenor, Tilly Scott. Tilly runs her sessions as a sort of cross between an ABC TV children’s show and an adult psych session. Her clients are likewise unusual. There is Margarite, Jason (is he really looking for an explanation or looking for a girlfriend?) and Rachael.

The inner children, once revealed, are an odd assortment of personalities. There is Little Margarite who pees into the audience through her eyes (Fright Night for the front row, but funnier); Little Jason, invisible except for his Spider Man t-shirt and asthmatic breathing; and the angry Little Rachael.

The themes covered during the therapy session are varied - there is violence, racism, red heads, arson, death - personified in drawings on the spin wheel of Safety.

This show is full of quick one liners, astute social reflection, and interesting interactions between the characters during and after the session, all delivered by Schwarcz in quick morphings between adult characters and the puppet children.

Schwarcz is at her best when manipulating the puppets (shadow and life sized) and develops moments of sublime believability when she brings to life the life sized puppet children. A remarkable connection.

The main difficulty at this stage of the show’s development is that the performer is still mastering the complexity of manipulating the set, the props, and aspects of the puppetry. Sometimes lines were fluffed and links between characters confusing. A sympathetic audience was able to see beyond these hiccups and enjoy the show as a refreshing look at the link between the adult and the child fighting for survival in all of us.

Stephen Dean turned in an invisible but silk smooth performance operating the lights and sound. Dean is a huge asset for The Bakehouse Theatre to have on staff.

I was happy to jump off the cliff with Lana Schwarcz and Small Talk. Time to have a sympathetic chat with my inner child.

Martin Christmas

When: 7 to 15 Mar
Where: The Bakehouse Theatre Studio