CUT SNAKE, Arthur and Tamarama Rock Surfers at Bondi Pavilion Theatre, 12-23 March 2013. Photos by John Feely, main: Catherine Davies, Julia Billington and Kevin Kiernan-Molloy; right: Davies and Kiernan-Molloy.
The transformation of the Bondi Pavilion theatre into an intimate space by way of pegged up drapes is the first clue of something different. That the drapes appear to be examples of bed sheet, doona cover and curtain design going back to the 1970s is the next. Then the hyper-emotional, wide-eyed and somersaulting entrance of Kiki Coriander (Catherine Davies) is all you need to sit back and go along for the wildest ride even the most savvy Contiki bus tourist is likely to have experienced.
Kiki and childhood bestie Bob (Julia Billington) have been given a travel journal belonging to their other bestie, Jumper (Kevin Kiernan-Molloy), after his untimely but unfortunately very funny death in a road accident in Croatia. What happened to each of the trio before, after and during the crash that was caused by the bus avoiding a mangy dog, hitting a tree instead and going over a cliff is the backbone of this wonderfully flexible piece of theatre.
Directed, devised and designed by the sickeningly talented Paige Rattray and written by the over-gifted Amelia Evans and Dan Giovannoni, Cut Snake is a delicious concoction of physical theatre, unrestrained imagination, disciplined performance and exhilarating wit and hilarity.
In just 50 action-packed minutes the audience is whisked from Croatia to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro, meets Kiki's great love, the bearded lady, and learns about the possibility of time travel and fairies. And that's all before learning about the treacherous inclinations of a sock puppet snake named Trix.
The collaborative nature of the show is such that other credits go to composer/devisor Tom Hogan - on-stage music and FX - and lighting and production design to Ross Graham. The three actors are terrific in an Energiser Bunny-meets-Serious Acting sort of way but there's a lot more beneath the comical and absurd surface. In truth, Cut Snake is a touching set of stories and a search for the meaning of life and death and the whole damn thing. It's boldly written, very clever, incredibly silly and profound. I loved it.