‘The Secret Garden Project’ reviewed by Gordon the Optomby Gordon The Optom February 12, 2016
‘The Secret Garden Project’ is a bold and experimental show, devised and created by a young, adventurous team named ’Those Who Love You’, under deviser Kane Parker. The project is part of Perth’s FRINGEWORLD 2016.
There are three different, secret venues for this most unusual play. With performances performed in Fremantle for two nights, two in Guildford and two in Leederville. The hour long ‘happening’ starts at 7.00 on various evenings until the 20th February.
The Fremantle venue was a rustic garden, surrounded by hewn, limestone walls, with fabulous, trailing and potted plants. A large fish pond lay in the secluded corner.
The crowd are warmly welcomed into the private garden, by the home’s gardener, Greg (Nathan Whitebrook). As he brushes the paving, the visitors settle on cushions and crates. Greg explains how much pride he takes in his work, especially this garden and spins a few yarns. He has the blood group that seems to attract the mozzies, and so he invites anyone who has similar problem to spray themselves, offering around the Aeroguard.
After a few minutes of light banter, Greg retreats to the BBQ at the rear of the house, to cook the snags.
Perched on a high wall, a young guitarist (Tom Beech) softly plays his melodious compositions. As he strums, the cat from next door appears (Zoe Street), playing with her favourite musical toy, only to run into the owner’s big savage dog (Monty Sallur); however, when they hear Greg returning, they disappear quickly into the undergrowth.
The visitors are invited to help themselves to the food and homemade lemonade provided by the host. The perfect host, Greg, continues to tell us of his life and daily routine, when suddenly he discovers that a guest has betrayed their warm invitation. The mood changes.
The acting commanded by the three performers was both physically and mentally demanding, but the three performances had every ounce of energy packed into them.
This show must have been a major challenge for clever director Rhiannon Petersen and the producers, Sean Guastavino and Zoe Street, but by moving the venue around it covers most of Perth CBD, giving a very different atmosphere to the loveable creature’s play.
Publicist, Amelia Tuttleby, has advised me that it is a sell-out, with only a few tickets left for the final venue, Leederville.