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Adelaide Festival

Review: Deluge

Adelaide Festival

Watching Deluge is like staring at a “magic eye” painting, waiting for the hidden picture to emerge.

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It’s deliberate information overload in an attempt to find meaning in a chaotic world and, as the play’s creators say, no two people will leave the show with the same impression.

Deluge – the first production by new South Australian theatre company Tiny Bricks, the creative partnership between director Nescha Jelk and playwright Phillip Kavanagh – is presented in a warehouse setting at Bowden. The “stage” is a 10m x 5m clear Perspex box filled with chunks of foam, around which the audience is seated on all four sides.

Above the sea of foam is an abstract art light fitting which flashes like vehicles moving along a big-city highway, or information flooding bandwidths, or human neurons – as stated already, it’s open to interpretation.

The actors are trapped in a sea of foam. Photo: Che Chorley

The actors are trapped in a sea of foam. Photo: Che Chorley

As the performance begins, actors rise up through the foam and for the next 45 minutes they perform five separate but interconnected plays exploring topics such as religion, individuality and identity, love and relationships, war and war games, communication and tolerance.

Actors talk over one another, different storylines play out simultaneously and, at times, it’s a bit like white noise. There is still a beginning, middle and end of sorts to both the individual storylines and the overall piece, but the form is unconventional and the journey is certainly unfamiliar.

The young cast of actors – all associated with, or graduates of, the Flinders Drama Centre – is captivating. While stuck in foam and visible only from the waist up, each player conveys the individuality of their character and the particular issues confronting them.


Captivating: Tiny Bricks’ Deluge. Photo: Che Chorley

Playwright Kavanagh developed Deluge through the assistance of an Australia Council JUMP mentorship with screenwriter Andrew Bovell. His intentions for this work, as outlined in the program, were to highlight the way modern information overload has affected individuals’ relationships with their significant others and the world in which they live. He certainly accomplishes this, while simultaneously providing an insightful and entertaining production.

Deluge really isn’t your typical chronological play. Some audience members may see it as an example of artistic pretence, while others – like this reviewer – will find its experimental form refreshing. This is, after all, the Festival of Arts, so where better to showcase experimental forms of art?

This is high-end performance art, and a great experience for all those who are open to new forms and boundary-pushing.

Deluge is presented by Tiny Bricks and Brink Productions. It is playing nightly at Plant 1, Bowden, until 13 March.

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