Fred (Old 505 Theatre)

lisachappellVenue: Old 505 Theatre (Surry Hills NSW), Aug 28 – Sep 8, 2013
Playwright: Lisa Chappell
Director: Christopher Stollery
Actor: Lisa Chappell

Theatre review
One woman in an ugly costume, one chair, no set, no props, no “multimedia” elements. This is bare bones theatre that relies squarely on performance, writing and direction. The fact that Fred works so successfully is a real testament to the talent and hard work that Lisa Chappell and Christopher Stollery have put into their craft. This show is relentlessly dark, but also extremely funny. It strikes a balance between the horrific and the hilarious, creating an emotional effect that is painfully unsettling but entirely entrancing.

Chappell’s skill as an actor is exceptional. The thoroughness at which she maps out the frequent and dramatic changes in tone of performance and psychological states is the highlight of this production. Her ability to portray the insanity of being lost in an agonising and devastating memory in one second, and flicking back in an instant to frivolous silliness, is sublime. Also impressive, is that the audience is only ever allowed to see the character, Deidre on stage. The actor, Lisa, is perfectly hidden from view, even though she is right in front of your eyes, expertly casting her magic over a spellbound crowd. Her director Stollery provides a creative and critical “third eye”, and together, they have spawned a one-woman tour de force that is unmissable.

Equally noteworthy is Chappell’s script. Her work explores some of the most morbid crevices of the human imagination, but her storytelling stubbornly remains in the realm of jokes and laughter. This is a perfect (and intense) representation of trauma, mental illness and the human instinct for survival. While the play concludes abruptly, it does so with good reason. It might disrupt the audience’s sentimental response to the character in question, but it is in the awakening from the fantasy into stone cold sober reality that the truth hits home.