Escape from the Breakup Forest by Mixtape Theatre Collective is a story we’ve heard and seen many times before, but its quirky comedic packaging, cool cardboard set, likeable characters and well placed one-liners are what endears the audience to this version of that same ol’ story of love and loss.
Josh has just experienced his first major heartbreak when girlfriend Emma ends their 5 year relationship. He was so wrapped up in Emma that losing her sees him sink low into a repetitive cereal eating, bad TV watching funk. Before you know it, Josh is in the ‘breakup forest’ and must (almost choose your own adventure style) face a series of challenges with the help of a spirit guide hand puppet named Curly.
This production is fun, light hearted theatre that while not taking its subject matter too seriously leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling upon its final messages. (I wonder if the ultra crafty cardboard black outlined set, that looked like it had been pinched from Playschool, was perhaps a clue to the tongue in cheek nature of the performance.) In one of the The Judith Wright Centre’s smaller performance spaces, credit needs to be given to the co-directors Claire Christian and Ari Palani for making the most out of every inch of the space. Performers Steve Pirie (who also wrote the piece), Ell Sachs and Dan Stewart make a genuine and intimate connection with their audience and the humour is evident from the beginning with their guide to theatre etiquette setting the tone for the play’s relaxed, tactless and yet sometimes cutting wit. The video projections that feature through the performance are very well integrated and work to propel many of the punch lines; the video also extends the visual aesthetics perfectly. However, I wanted more from video. I silently wished the narrative was going to seamlessly switch from the live version of the story to some animated alternative viewpoint or further absurd comical addition.
Escape from the Breakup Forest is a fresh and tightly presented ensemble piece that is definitely worth the price of admission, and then some. Once you settle into the performance style and make the connection to the characters from the lovelorn to the bogan, from the slutty to the kind-hearted, you’ll find there much to discover amidst the cut out trees and Josh’s journey. If nothing else, the one-liners will definitely guarantee you a laugh, and where the comedic talents of Mix Tape Theatre Collective is concerned, a space to watch.
Mixtape Theatre Collective
Escape from the Breakup Forest
by Steve Pirie
Directed by Claire Christian and Ari Palani
Venue: Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts | 420 Brunswick St (cnr Berwick St), Fortitude Valley QLD
Dates: 16 & 19 – 23 Mar, 2013
Tickets: $23 – $19