07 October 2010

Review: Miles O'Neil's World Around Us

Miles O'Neil's World Around Us
5 October 2010
The Loft,  Fringe hub
to 9 October

Miles O'Neil is best known as one of the marvelous Suitcase Royale trio. His first solo show, World Around Us, is a gentle and atmospheric hour about found stories that opens with the most beautiful self-confession about pornography.  But don't worry, it's not a dirty story.

Miles found a box of super 8 film in an op shop. Watching old home movies is almost as voyeuristic as peeping at your neighbours or reading a lost diary. Projected onto the traditional bed sheet screen, we search for recognition in the places and the people. We place them by clothes (70s bathers), places (the 80s Jaws shark at the Universal Lot in LA) and images remembered from childhood (TAA and Ansett planes).

We know they were made when film was precious. Every person filmed is someone loved and we have to wonder how these films were thrown away. Were they lovingly transferred to VHS and are now on the iPods of the children in them, or accidentally thrown out and someone has searched and cried because they lost these images of their loved ones (and many performing sea mammals).

Miles watched these films a lot and as we watch, like a silent movie accompanist, he sings and plays instruments that he found in strange places, as the nearly-lost hypnotic sound of a film projector opens and closes each number. The songs aren't about the films and their stories. Seeped in nostalgia, they reflect the lost mood of the films from the hope and love that made them to the melancholy of the times and people now lost or forgotten.

Between the songs Miles tells us stories: stories that he also found. He found them in taxis, outside the Black Box theatre and on a bench by St Pauls. They are stories about older men who shared their own tales and gave this young man some advice. Miles never judges the advice or the tellers; he just reads us their stories about life and hope and loss. (He doesn't need me to tell him to stop reading and start telling. I hope the papers will be gone by the end of the week, because every second that his connection with his audience is lost is too much like disappointment.)

World Around Us is still rough and needs some more runs, but I loved it even more for it's unreadiness because we got to see the real Miles on the stage as he tried out some moments (keep Neil Diamond), jokes and overcame his nerves. This is such a rough diamond of a show that it would be sad to see it slick and shiny.

Like a Drambie, a cuddle and comfy couch, it's a perfect end to a night at the Fringe.

This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

1 comment:

  1. Really well-written review, show sounds great, he's a funny lad!