StarsStarsStarsStarsStars

Theatre review: Worship – Memento Vivere, Fringe World

A haunting variety show celebrating life in a time of crisis.

At a time when death is foremost on people’s minds and many are re-assessing their priorities, Worship Memento Vivere – presented as part of Fringe World 2022 – is a welcome offering that invites audiences to celebrate life in these pandemic times. On opening night, audience members were pulled into a melancholic world of burlesque, circus, dance, and musical performance. Before the show began, the audience was invited to write the things that hold them back on pieces of paper and to let them go in designated containers onstage. Out with the old, and in with the new as they ‘remembered to live’. A compelling theme in disheartening times.  

With the promise of rebirth and transformation, the audience surrendered to a hazy spectacle as the artists took us on a journey of ritualistic purging. From dance to breathtaking trapeze, to gothic vocals, pyrotechnics and violin, the show was a feast for the senses. Each act was a heart-warming celebration of our resilience and capacity to overcome and emerge from difficult moments in our lives. Nevertheless, despite responding to a common theme, the acts lacked cohesion as a whole. They were disparate moments in time. 

Read: Dance review: Clay (digital), Australia Ballet

The lack of cohesion is attributable to the hypervisibility of the stage crew. While efforts were made to incorporate aspects of stage management into the show, these efforts proved insufficient as a significant portion of the 60-minute show was eaten up by stage management. Audience members were privy to crew members scrambling to maintain the integrity of performers’ costumes. We sat patiently as stagehands carried props and scenery on and offstage. Moreover, the complexity of some artists’ costumes undermined their capacity to seamlessly enter and exit the stage. 

To minimise the attention directed towards the stage crew by the audience, some rousing violin would have improved the experience for all, ensuring a sense of continuity between each act. At the very least it would have shifted the audience’s attention away from the stage crew to a beautiful musical interlude. The show was subject to similar criticism after an earlier run at the Rechabite in late 2021. The collective would have done well to address these gaps prior to this year’s Fringe Festival. Doing so would have ensured the cohesion of the acts, thereby strengthening the show and enriching the audience’s experience. Here, a bit of simplicity would have gone a long way.

Worship’s poor execution detracts from its compelling theme. In the end, the show felt like a prolonged gothic cliché that was neither surreal nor avant-garde in its realisation. The most compelling act of the night – not accounting for the accompanying voice over – was Matthew Pope’s trapeze act. Audience members were captivated by the acrobat’s talent and such captivation never returned for the remainder of the show. The collective would do well to improve the cohesion of their acts. 

Nevertheless, those looking for an interesting night out will find the show very entertaining. For while it is ultimately unsuccessful, Worship is not entirely without its moments.

Worship Memento Vivere
Foxglove Productions, The Rechabite, Perth Fringe Festival
Producer: Essie Foxglove
Performers: Ginava, Matthew Pope, Moana Mayatrix, Smokey LaBare, Bobby Knox, Pippa Lester, Bobbie Apples, Camden Champagne, Essie Foxglove. 

Tickets: from $25

Worship – Memento Vivere will be performed again on 29 January 2022 as part of Perth’s Fringe World.

Tinashe Jakwa is a critic and multi-disciplinary writer with a PhD in Political Science and International Relations. Her work explores the limits of our present cultural moment for leading meaningful and satisfying lives and building healthy communities and societies. She lives in Boorloo (Perth) and likes quiet, the outback, forests, and sincerity. Find her at: https://inrelation.info/