- January 15th, 2009
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Just before I begin this review, I’d like to take this opportunity to offer a moment of space, a bit of time in which we are able to reflect what has brought me to this moment in which I am pecking out a review on the Fondue Set’s latest morsel, “No Success Like Failure”. I’d also like a moment to reflect upon the preparation which has taken place pre this moment of review… which is primarily the “view” I had of the show last night which has lead me inexorably to this moment of re-viewing, in the written form, for your possible position of a preview or which may be embattled with your personal silent re-view. I’d like to also spare a moment to think about the expectation you have of this review. Have you read anything of mine before? Have you read something like this before? Have you identified this as a non-review? Regardless of your expectations and preparations and prejudices I am hoping that you have a moment to think about all the things that have prepared you to be sitting there gazing at a luminous sheet of technology trying to make sense of this thing you are reading, unless of course you have decided, life is too short and you really need to do the laundry, try on your neglected golden tap shoes or perhaps meander off for a nap in the hope of dreaming of rabbits.
“Part talent quest, part educational forum and part cabaret,” The Fondue Set have brought a world of ideas and the history of post modern theatre to the Sydney Opera House Studio, complete with glittering blue tinsel curtain, ply-board palm trees and a bunch of costume changes. Emma Saunders, Elizabeth Ryan and Jane McKernan continuously push and transform and subvert the expected conventions of entertainment. Created in collaboration with UK based director, Wendy Houstoun “No Success Like Failure” puts the “no” in maNifestO, brings the alphabet of French philosophers alive, challenges the passive inanimate audience to not look at their sparkling costumes and eyes… whilst managing to dispel any preconceptions about the ideas mentioned in the promotional material/postcard.
Enshrouded in a dense cloak of critical theorists (Derrida, Foucault, Deluze) whilst dancing along to Roxette, The Fondue Set are infinitely fun, clever, sweet, raw and visually compelling. Whether wheeling around on a chair in a sparkling jumpsuit, pushing a mini wheel of fortune display board, or wearing velvet gown for the purposes of posturing and preparing, The Fondue Set are challenging and utterly engaging.
Fringed in nervous twitters, loud abrupt guffaws and stunned silence, they prove yet again that the audience makes meaning, whether they like it or not! Lets not ignore the very poignant message of the piece… the fine line between success and failure, the power of words to shift perception: “Look how happy my hand is so smoothly flips in our perception and soon we accept Elizabeth’s mournful “look how sad my hand is.” Also how malleable audiences are, how easily influenced and contained an audience can be… how fickle we are… how well trained and brimming with expectation… and how much we are at the mercy of those who may entertain us: and how empowered we are in our making of meaning and significance. Surprising as well, how moved I was during moments “Sad Dancing” … and how devastated I became in the key note speech: which really demonstrated “its not what you say its how you say it.”
At one moment we are “See you at the Top” at another we are “Ditching the stinking thinking.” Flipping between the two states of success and failure… flipping between acceptance and rejection… between beautiful and grotesque… between comedy and tragedy, all in a swirling glittering stupefying soup of reference and creation.
All I can say is “I urge you to open yourself in these tendrils of time to profound and intense fun of “The Fondue Set!”