Review: UFO (Griffin Theatre Company)

Venue: SBW Stables Theatre (Darlinghurst NSW), Apr 18 – 29, 2023
Writer: Kirby Medway
Director: Solomon Thomas
Cast: Matt Abotomey, James Harding, Angela Johnston, Tahlee Leeson
Images by Lucy Parakhina

Theatre review

The show begins with people shooting a stop motion film, involving puppet versions of themselves, on a miniature set. Using two cameras, the results of their animation are shown live on screens, as they voice their respective characters. UFO by Kirby Medway tells a mysterious story about four characters, hired to document the moment-by-moment activities of an appropriately huge Unidentified Flying Object parked on a golf course, stationary but for lights that are constantly flashing.

Thoroughly whimsical, UFO is directed by Solomon Thomas, who infuses a gentle humour, that crescendos to a satisfying comedic peak at its penultimate moments. There is undeniable creativity at play, admirable for the artists’ imaginativeness, and their unwavering commitment to idiosyncrasy.

Set design by Angus Callander is a charming manifestation of the productions’ dual needs, both theatrical and filmic, that allows for the staging’s refreshing imagery. Tom Hogan’s dramatic sound design is exceptionally enjoyable, full of tension, yet fascinatingly kitsch in its rendering of this sci-fi microcosm. Performers Matt Abotomey, James Harding, Angela Johnston and Tahlee Leeson are marvellously precise, and splendid with their timing, in a presentation that never fails to pique curiosity.

In the modern age, we seem always to be on the precipice of of technological advancements, that threaten to annihilate, and move us further into dystopia. UFO expresses this perennial anxiety, but demonstrates the wondrous joy that technology can and does deliver. Humanity and technology are much closer in essence than we care to acknowledge, maybe because we know too well, the resolutely destructive tendencies of our nature. |