A black velvet curtain, a stool, basic lighting and an open stage, no microphone. Allan Girod keeps it stripped down and basic to present his engrossing monologue, a recounting of various moments in his life over the last 30 years, starting with a Saturday in the Easter holidays when he was 15 years old. Filling the stage with his tall presence, he keeps things informal, making eye contact, chatting, but striking various poses that enhance the delivery of the narrative.
Using a delivery method drawing from the Barefaced Stories tradition, Girod’s carefully chosen vignettes seem random, but each sets up just a little more of his story and more importantly, his personality. The sequence progresses, until you feel that you know this man, more than many of the people you work with each day. He doesn’t gloss over the high or low lights of various stages in his life, speaking with admirable and infectious enthusiasm about the intricate joys of model aircraft assembly, the psychosis of a feared Phys Ed teacher, and the sartorial splendour of his outfit for the Year 10 Social dance.
The dramatic points of Girod’s performance are subtle, turning on slight variations of mood and drawing on the goodwill and empathy generated in earlier parts of his recitation for their impact. He uses some reiterations of theme, from the polyester lined sleeves of a jacket for the school dance that “goes on so smoothly”, to the silk lined sleeves of a tailored Cirque du Soleil costume that “goes on so smoothly” – a sense of satisfied continuity found in the smallest details of life experience.
Those looking for revelatory details of his life working with Cirque du Soleil should look elsewhere, the rich prose flows to draw a picture of the boy who became the man, and the boy within that man. The circumstances of him finding his life’s passion are told in vivid detail, all full of the immediate sensations from his own, tall perspective. Copious descriptions of settings are leavened by physical indications of the relative heights of other people, complete with the angles in which they stand to converse with Girod. This performer is one who delights in finding the magical in the mundane, who constantly surprises with his compassion for the big things and panicked obsession over the minutiae of human interaction.
An emotionally honest and gripping experience, Absolutely is charming and compelling entertainment.
flaming locomotive presents
by Allan Girod
Directed by Igor Sas
Venue: Chrissie Parrott Arts Centre | 4 Sussex St, Maylands, WA
Dates: 4 – 6 June, 2014