Interesting if pretentious premise, requiring further character development but celebrating its rough edges.
Patrick Downlow Esq is a digital native, recognising that we all spend time at our screens, consuming content, each day. With a costume that is part troubadour, part favourite jumper worn to bits, with striking kabuki-style full face makeup, he presents his connoisseur-quality curated content for our edification.
Supported by technician Tim, with lo-tech projection onto a screen mimicking the face of a smart phone, Patrick’s distracted attention is portrayed by rapid flicks between random Wikipedia articles, Youtube clips and Buzzfeed videos. The random switches in attention online are reflected in the show’s random structure. Patrick consults his phone for prompts that raise moderately interesting points, each approached with initial enthusiasm only to tail off or be discarded in favour of another, distinctly unrelated, matter. The content consists of poorly-prepared lectures with awkwardly linked topics, presented with supercilious condescension or simply thrown in as an interesting diversion as Patrick’s attention falters… which would be more effective with a stronger narrative structure. Longer form developments include an analysis of the nature, structure and appeal of memes, replete with in-jokes. In a more lyrical vein, Pat’s fanciful self-promoting recount of his experiences in Japan, being adopted by a Kabuki theatre troupe and learning their ways, is humorously juxtaposed with Tim’s scathing typed commentary on Pat’s truthfulness and personal issues with cultural appropriation. In the closest approach to actual narrative or drama in Raglan Fetish Show, Pat’s overlong earnest comparison of Chris Lilley’s non-white comedy characters and Buzzfeed’s video recipes of the Tasty genre brings simmering resentment and conflict between Tim and Pat to a head.
Presented with liberal amounts of cod-psychology and pseudo-intellectual posturing, creator and performer Nick Morlet establishes his character Patrick Downlow Esq as a wannabe cultural guru in the worst traditions of internet commentary and recap videos. The unrelenting sophomoric philosophising and posturing take the character’s overbearing attempts at intellectualism past reasonable comfort levels.
Considering its short running time and limitations of the non-theatre venue, this production features novel touches that slip between real life and online experiences. In the fractured mix, an immersive modern soundscape is attempted through instructing the audience to turn on their phones with sound enabled, audience workshopping through reaching out and sharing their recent interesting content found on the internet, a live ASMR performance and an unapologetically, agonisingly awful YouTube video that captures the worst elements of cynical market manipulation and low production values.
Morlet presents some interesting ideas, the random cuts and jumps themselves speaking to the nature of our modern interaction and fascination of the weird and wonderful cultural developments through the internet age, but Raglan Fetish Show ultimately fails to coalesce into anything accessible or entertaining beyond superficial esoteric novelty value.
While very “Fringe” in its approach to modern culture, moving beyond post-modernism to a form of meta-satire, Raglan Fetish Show feels both self-indulgent and under-developed. Morlet and his associates may wish to consider whether they are trying to entertain, educate or provide some other value to the audience, or simply amuse themselves.
2018 Perth FringeWorld
Raglan Fetish Show
by Nick Morlet
Venue: Paper Mountain, Northbridge WA
Dates: 12 – 17 February 2018