If watching an arts grant application’s arcane and inscrutable complexities in real-time – complete with the attached Excel budget spreadsheet – isn’t your idea of a gripping thriller, think again!
Pony Cam, the absolute lunatic mayhem-makers behind the award-winning theatre show Grand Theft Theatre, are here to prove you will shriek, hide behind your fingers in excruciating anticipation and exasperatedly snort-laugh while figuring out if a risk assessment matrix is required, who has their RSA sorted, and if there is a way you can get a town mayor involved in a flyover.
This is partly because the genius curtain pull of the five-star klaxon-sounding Burnout Paradise reveals just how ridiculously tortuous the hoops your average starving artist has to leap through while begging cap in hand for no-doubt meagre funds, all to provide our low-cost, high-thrills entertainment in a bewildering behemoth like the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
It’s also because the cast of four most likely to have a heart attack before the end of the run – Claire Bird, Hugo Williams, Dominic Weintraub and William Strom – take it in turns to tackle this Sisyphean soul trap on the backs of four expensive-to-hire treadmills (they couldn’t afford eight to keep up with OK Go’s pop video masterclass for ‘Here It Goes Again’). But the internecine vagaries of navigating local government bureaucracy are the least of their collective worries.
In under an hour, one of the most frenetically uproarious shows of gloriously demented ecstasy you will ever experience also tasks these four horse folks of the admin apocalypse with:
- Cooking a three-course meal complete with boiling water and hot oil
- Staging a heartfelt performance piece relating to their childhood
- Completing a fairly heft list of seemingly mundane tasks replete with plenty of props
None should be tackled while sweating your body weight out at some clap on an occasionally oil-slicked travelator, all to amass a hefty combined kilometre tally. This is why fifth ensemble member Ava Campbell is far smarter, playing the tally scorer mid-thesis writing while her dehydration-challenged buddies fast approach heat death.
It’s sheer bedlam in the most magnificent way, with the very nature of the show meaning the impending disaster trail will unravel wildly differently every night, in line with chaos theory. Plenty of valiant punters who need little encouragement step in to assist (no one is forced to, if you fear the spectre of audience participation), all to try and prevent the wheels from falling off. As your boggling eyes settle on one nigh-on impossible mission – be it a whirlwind Hamlet monologue, death-defying interpretative dance number or a spot of handmade pasta prep plus cucumber squishing – you’ll undoubtedly avert your gaze only to spy the tail end of an inexplicably hilarious occurrence elsewhere.
The only solution is to go hard and go often, snapping up repeat tickets while praying to the gods of “How did this pass OHS?” mischief that the Pony Cam-ers and their intrinsically twisted grant applications prevail. Because in this rapidly collapsing world of ours, inspirationally creative heroes are putting their heart, soul and relatively easy-to-snap limbs, actually, on the line like this priceless. Unlike venue hire.
Looking for more things to do at Fringe? Check out our list of the best theatre, comedy, weird and free events happening this year.