The Lounge Room Confabulators

Aussie raconteurs are heavy on atmosphere but light on substance

★★★
theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Published 06 Aug 2011

One needn't be a maven of the arts to have noticed that Edinburgh isn't short of a theatre or two right now. There's an undeniable oddity, then, to find yourself sat on a hastily arranged chair in a living room, an Xbox directly ahead, a shelved copy of The Car Bodywork Repair Manual to the right, waiting for a show to begin. There's a knock on the door, a message is delivered and theatre unfolds in this living room in Edinburgh's Old Town.

It's this sense of mismatch that drives the greatest successes of The Lounge Room Confabulators, winners of the Udderbelly Edinburgh Award at this year's Adelaide Fringe. The setting is as homely as the tales are macabre and alienating, and bloody narratives are delivered with childlike naïvete. Often, their suitcase of stories delivers deadpan tragedy ('The Bat and the Dove', for instance), followed hotly by toilet humour wrought into high melodrama ('The Burp and the Fart'). From this manipulation of tone and subject spring exciting leaps of imagination and fresh perspectives on repeated narratives.

But there's a sense throughout that this is a production which works faster than an audience possibly can. With impressive energy, the Australian duo rip through story after story, feinting the odd hook of a developing image or character before slamming it back into their prop box sooner than the audience can hang more than a passing thought on it. As exciting as this rapid rifling is, there's not a huge amount of room left in these symbolistic narratives for much more than a sense of atmosphere.