March 05, 2015

War and Cyber-love

Filed under: 2015,Archive,Festival

Nufonia Must Fall
by Kid Koala
Directed and designed by K.K.Barrett
Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre.
March 4.
Tickets: $ 30 – $ 59
Bookings :
BASS 131246. Until March 7. Duration 1 hr.

Written and performed by Valentijn Dhaenens
Produced and presented by SKaGeN
Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre. March 4.

Not many performances begin with a bingo call, but Canadian Eric San, aka Kid Koala, really likes to mix things around. Not only is he an impressively credentialed scratch DJ, he has also published two graphic novels, including the cryptically titled Nufonia Must Fall, now a stage work complete with live action puppets and a string quartet.

We all receive a bingo card and a pencil and the first to complete a line of objects wins a prize – no guesses: a graphic novel. Kid Koala then affably introduces the show and he and the Afiara Quartet begin the overture. Onstage, a crew of puppeteers, technicians, and the director of photography, A.J.Korkidakis, work across three desks, each set up with miniature décor and puppets, ready to be projected by live feed to the large screen behind them.

Filmed in a milky monochrome (the only moments of colour are a tomato being sliced) we follow the exploits of a robot who, rather than having Intel inside, has a terabyte of love for a young woman he meets in an elevator. Tribulations are many; the robot is superseded by a brash new model with six arms, and his attempts to re-skill are thwarted. In a series of charmingly cartoonish episodes, he woos his beloved. He even writes a song, standing in the rain to serenade her.
Kid Koala’s melodic score evokes the bittersweet melancholy of silent-era films, the set by Benjamin Gerlis and puppet designs (by Clea Minaker, Patrick Martel, Felix Boisvert and Karina Bleau) are captivating, and the director, Spike Jonze collaborator, K.K.Barrett, ensures a fluent blend of music and narrative. Nufonia Must Fall is an endearing tale of undaunted cyber-love, and its technical intricacy is a delight to watch.

SmallWaR, on the other hand, is not intended to be fun at all. In a gripping follow-up to BigMouth in last year’s festival, Belgian actor, Valentijn Dhaenens has gathered historical verbatim statements from those most affected by the misery of warfare. BigMouth focused on the oratory of leaders, often exhorting their people to battle. SmallWaR recounts what that combat was actually like. Often using letters to loved ones, it reveals the inner thoughts of soldiers, many of them mortally wounded, and the nurses who cared for them in extremis.

Documents from World War I through to the Falklands, Rwanda, Iraq and Afghanistan give authentic voice to physical horrors far removed from the abstractions of liberty and valour. The excellent video, set and sound design by Jeroen Wuyts enables Dhaenens to perform with multiple images and music in a seamless way. SmallWaR is a memorable work admirably presented, and a timely reminder of what those words “supreme sacrifice” really mean.

Murray Bramwell

“War and Cyber-love” The Australian, March 6, 2015, P.14

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