Photo – Jochem Jurgens Photography
Theatergroep WAK, from the Netherlands, returns to this year's Fringe following their triumphant Best Theatre Production award-winning 'Nothing is Really Difficult' at the 2011 Fringe. With LevelLess, the group bring their signature playfulness and innovation. WAK always strive to do the unexpected.
Their purpose-built space is remarkable. From the outside, their theatre, which sits in the middle of The Garden of Unearthly Delights, looks like an old-fashioned camera with a long, tapered viewfinder. The key concept of the piece is the use of the stage floor, which is long, heavily raked towards the audience, made of slippery floorboards, and tapers to the back, giving a pronounced feeling of linear persective. While the audience seating-banks are the most uncomfortable I've experienced at the Fringe, there are enough crafted nooks and crannies in this space for plenty of diversion.
From the first voiceover, the conceit is that we are in the tunnel of the Hadron Collider in Geneva. The three performers are technicians, explorers, or atomic particles themselves. There are scenes of circus clowning, acrobatics, and lighting displays. The chief interest is how obects move through this crazy little space.
The group uses theatrical elements skillfully. Suddenly, a button on the wall, when pushed, might alter the entire environment, when it didn't before. Trapdoors appear from nowhere, and a low rumbling from the back of the space could be anything, and turns out to be what you least expect. At almost every point, the group have full control over this unveiling, this build-up or release of tension.
However, LevelLess doesn't quite live up to the high expectations. Of course, we expected a lot from them, and they were liable to be judged more harshly than most groups at the Fringe. I just felt that the piece's dependence on the slopey stage was a limitation that they hadn't completely worked around. They did a number of cool things with it, but you can't necessarily just do a few sweet tricks and have an audience entranced.
Theatergroep WAK have certainly produced another outstanding show, one which tantalises its audience's expectations. But that tantalisation just misses being fulfilled.
2012 Adelaide Fringe Festival
Venue: The Garden of Unearthly Delights - LevelLess, Adelaide
Dates: Feb 24 – March 18, 2012