Reviews/Fringe World Festival/Theatre

A moving modern-day Icarus

31 January 2019

Fringe World review: Bare Witness Theatre Company, Icarus ·
The Blue Room Theatre, as part of Summer Nights ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

Created and performed by Christopher Samuel Carroll, an Irish theatre artist based in Canberra, Icarus is a play on the Ancient Greek tale of the same name. In this contemporary version, however, our hero is not  a victim of over-confidence but desperation, a refugee whose fall from the sky marks the failure of an arduous escape from an unnamed situation.

Icarus is suffused with a dream-like quality, in part because Carroll does not speak. Instead the work is a series of mime sequences, cleverly and accurately illustrated by evocative sound effects, lighting and occasional voice-overs. Like dreams, too, these episodes slip and fold into one another.

Though the journey has a tragic end, it is punctuated with moments of humour that range from domestic fridge dilemmas to a slapstick tussle with a cat.

Best of all, however, are the moments when Carroll shifts away from the mime, and into a looser, more abstract form. As his food supplies dwindle, the protagonist’s dance of drop and recovery touchingly portrays his battle with fatigue. Later, when he is swept overboard as he tries to find a new home, the slow, flailing of his limbs at the mercy of the ocean also has the feel of something richer and less one-dimensional than a straight-forward mime sequence.

For me, these less literal, more poetic moments were the highlights of Icarus. As the work is listed in the Fringe World brochure under “dance and physical theatre”, too, these moments were more in keeping with what I hoped to see.

Nonetheless, Carroll’s blend of relatable domestic detail and slapstick comedy deftly draws the viewer in to the life of this modern-day Icarus, making the journey of risk and trauma that follows, and the work’s final moments, all the more moving.

Icarus plays The Blue Room until February 2. 

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Author —
Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked as an arts writer and critic since 2007. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. As a freelancer she has written extensively for The West Australian and Dance Australia magazine, co-editing the latter from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

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