Tuesday, August 8, 2023

COIL - Re:Group Performance Collective.


Solomon Thomas and Steve Wilson-Smith in "Coil" - image Rosie Hastie

Created by: Mark Rogers, Solomon Thomas, Steve Wilson-Alexander and Carly Young.

Performed by: Rose Maher, Solomon Thomas, Steve Wilson-Alexander

Video Design by Solomon Thomas – Screenplay by Mark Rogers

Set Design by Carly Young – Automation Programming by Chris Howell

The Q, Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre, August 8th & 9th.

Performance on 8th August reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.

This intriguing group-devised exploration of experimental video-theatre is an elegy about loneliness, nostalgia and friendship.

Presented in the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre as part of an extensive national tour, “Coil” is performed in a realistic reproduction of a suburban video shop complete with videos, DVD, and movie posters. This occupies one side of the stage, and a huge video screen is arranged on the other.

Steve Wilson-Alexander plays Steve, a charming video store proprietor, who casually addresses the audience as if it were one of his regular customers. Steve reminisces about the demise of video shops, his favourite movies, his favourite actors, and his favourite way of spending time (watching his favourite movies on video). He offers information about his friends; their favourite movies, favourite actors etc.

Steve Wilson-Alexander - Rose Maher - Solomon Thomas in "Coil" - image: Lucy Parakhina

Then he introduces his friends, Rose Maher and Solomon Thomas, and confides that the three of them are making a movie. He invites the audience to watch them make it.  

Rose settles on a computer on one side of the stage while Solomon operates a hand held video camera and they immediately set about quickly filming a series of filler shots with Steve playing all the roles. These shots are filmed out of sequence and make no sense.

Once they are satisfied they have enough material, they quickly assemble it and run the film in real time; technology blurring reality and fantasy with results that are hilarious and fascinating.  

As the filming and the movie progresses however, the audience finds itself privy to a conversation between Steve and Rose, during which Rose accuses Steve of living in the past rather than face the future. Refusing to be caught up in his life any longer she ends the friendship.

This clever weaving of fantasy and reality, live theatre and technology is not only subtly subversive; it is also hugely entertaining and unexpectedly moving. But best of all, it leaves the audience with unanswered questions about life, technology and the future.

Solomon Thomas - Stever Wilson-Alexander in "Coil" - image: Lucy Parakhina.

     This review also published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au