Fringe Festival reviews: Separation Street; Period

Children and adults alike are encouraged to use their imaginations in Separation Street. Picture: Polyglot
Children and adults alike are encouraged to use their imaginations in Separation Street. This picture and home page image: Polyglot Theatre.

Separation Street

Artistic director: Sue Giles
Performers: Polyglot Theatre and Suitcase Royale
Rating: ★★★½ stars 

By KIRSTI WEISZ

Based on the idea of separating children and adults, Separation Street thrusts you out of your comfort zone into a magnetic and unimaginable world. 

Separation Street will never be seen in its entirety by any one person. Everyone sees this unusual and curious universe separately.  

The interactive theatre performance creates a labyrinth based in outer space that both children and adults can explore at the same time, but through separate journeys.  

The internationally acclaimed theatre companies Polyglot and Suitcase Royale join forces in the innovative and comical show showing as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival. 

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Students from Victorian College for the Deaf (VCD) and Currajong School also helped create the show over three years. 

More of a journey than a narrative, Separation Street follows the tale of an astronaut named Frank who is obsessed with space and what lies beyond the moon. Outside our planet, he hears people calling for help. 

The audience moves through the eerie space, uncovering mysteries and clues while the production team plays with their senses through sound, sight and touch. 

The adults are guided by the daring yet clumsy JOF, the stage manager who’s ironically maimed and injured. Dressed with a neck brace, broken glasses and his hand in a sling, JOF becomes more of a hazard to himself than anyone else. 

Along with the nervous and awkward Emily (who dreams of becoming an astronaut) JOF distract the adults from worrying about the children with witty and often crude humour. 

Separation Street separates adults and children to take them on different journeys. Picture: Polyglot
Separation Street separates adults and children to take them on different journeys. Picture: Polyglot Theatre

The journey is mostly free-play but there is one rule the adults must follow at all times: “don’t f*** it up for the kids” is a logo printed on JOF’s shirt. 

Moments of improvisation merge naturally with the plot, making it difficult to determine whether something has gone off script or terribly wrong. There’s an authentic feel to interacting with the cast as they guide you through this alien realm.  

The show may be founded on separation, but the journeys overlap to create visually spectacular moments. With the climactic NASA countdown and the music invoking a sense of wonder, tension steadily increases as the adults wait for the stories to intertwine. And when they do, it culminates in a breathtaking experience. 

Communicated in fragments and sometimes jumbled, the narrative could do with more of a storyline to engage the grown-ups. But the story is secondary to the show’s aim to create an immersive experience that continues after the show.

While the experience is certainly enjoyable for adults, it is highly recommended that you be accompanied by a child to feel a sense of connection between the two stories that eventually impact on each other in a magically enlightening way. 

There’s something for everyone to gain from Separation Street – children are free to embrace their wild imaginations and chase their creative instinct while adults are reunited with their childish curiosity and sense of adventure. 

This wonderful labyrinth may separate age groups but it invokes harmony and opens a conversation between generations. 

Separation Street is appearing as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival until October 4 and is  suitable for ages 8+. Ticketing information can be found here

 

Loani Arman’s Period is a funny take on that time of the month. Picture: Melbourne Fringe Festival
Loani Arman’s Period is a funny take on that time of the month. Picture: Melbourne Fringe Festival

Period

Performer: Loani Arman
Director: Emma Dockery
Supported by: Tsuno
Rating: ★★★

By KIANNA DOUTHAT

Menstruation is generally no laughing matter, unless you’re comedian Loani Arman. 

She’s reclaiming the period joke and making menstruation funnier than ever in her comedy show Period at Melbourne Fringe Festival. 

Her show is a combination of story-telling, over-acting and some audience participation thrown in for good measure.

“It’s joyous, weird and really quite absurd, which probably makes it feel a bit dangerous to me,” Loani says.

Period makes menstruation fun. Picture: Kate Raynes-Goldie Flickr under Creative Commons
Period makes menstruation fun. Picture: Kate Raynes-Goldie 

But Loani is no stranger to creating humour in awkward situations. Her first solo show for Sydney Fringe was about body hair, and her second show, performed while heavily pregnant, even touched on abortion.

“The best and most original comedy, to me, always comes with a sense of danger – that feeling that you’re laughing at something you’ve never thought to laugh at before, so you’re not sure whether you should laugh or not,” Loani says.

“My job as a comedian is to keep giving people permission to laugh.”

Earlier this year she produced and performed in an all-female show for the Sydney Comedy Festival where she joked about her post-baby belly.

So it comes as no surprise that her next show is about yet another un-talked about topic. Since entering Period into the Melbourne Fringe Festival line-up, Loani has been talking, writing and living menstruation … figuratively, of course.

Doing a stand-up show about menstruation isn’t easy. She’s spent months researching the dreaded red, and finding humour in the often unpleasant experience of periods.

During this time she has produced six hilarious weekly Period Pieces for Lip Mag, on topics ranging from the tampon tax to “toilet-paper pads”.

But her show goes beyond your average period joke. The audience will be in stitches over her hilarious portrayal of well-known tampon commercials.  

It is intense, energetic and endearing, but also slightly crazy.

Sharing with the audience her “period origin story” Loani races around the room like a kid who’s had too much cordial.

Her show includes an audience re-enactment of the female reproductive organs during what is arguably a female’s least favourite time of the month.

And it finishes with the audience being “flushed out” of the room.

As funny as her show is, it sometimes seems like she’s trying too hard, and some of her anecdotes are a bit too far-fetched to be believed.

Comedian Loani Arman has previously performed stand-up comedy at the Sydney Fringe and Comedy festivals.
Comedian Loani Arman has previously performed stand-up comedy at the Sydney Fringe and Comedy festivals.

There’s no doubt that it’s a unique comedy show though.

“There’s so much fun in having no shame in what most would find embarrassing,” Loani says.

With the ongoing tampon tax debate still raging, public period discussions have become more popular, perhaps even trendy.

With all this in mind, Loani hopes her show will help the audience realise that it’s okay to talk about shared experiences, no matter how embarrassing.

Period is appearing as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival until October 4. Find ticketing information here.