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In for the kill

Jason Sweeney

Jason Sweeney is a sound and performance-maker in transit. He is also a core artist and curator with Adelaide-based live arts company, para//elo.

Frumpus, Crazed Frumpus, Crazed
photo Michael Meyers
Entering a Frumpus performance is like pushing through to some much-needed Buffy dimension where the demons are actually you, in disguise, in some nightmarish cinematic loop, but with matching red tracksuits and sinister grins. Crazed is a new work by this dedicated ensemble of shape-shifters and Adelaide seems like the perfect place to unleash it, especially as a late night horror feature in the biennial Fringe Festival. In fact, their venue choice was only a matter of metres from dark, historical Adelaide-terror central: the Torrens River. Bodies dragged, bodies dumped.

Crazed is a manic composition, variations on a theme of slasher/horror genre (filmic references aplenty, some recognised, others not, me being the squeamish type who always looks away when the guts are spilled, the head cut from the body, the limbs severed...). Crazed takes me anywhere from the Chainsaw Massacre-type hopeless chase in the woods (there’s no escape! you’ll never get away this time!); to the Blair-Witchefied surrounds of the sleeping-bag-cum-tent with a camera shoved in your face, tears streaming; to the Hanging Rock zombie drawn to the abyss of pan-piped hell; to the begging for water, to drink (not even a sip!); to the petite rituals of mad fireside needlework in some Victorian gothic, storm-ravished mansion, disturbed by the incessant ringing of a telephone (dare not answer for fear of the terrifying voice of a Telstra answering service); to the abandoned country house with only the killer for company; to Cronenbergesque mutations, visceral, oozing. Sigourney Weaver would fall so deeply in love with the alien glove puppets whose seedy obsession with porn, sauna orgies, car hoonin’ and chain smokin’ would endear anyone’s tender (soon to be torn open) stomachs for a spot of sci-fi bio-tech co-habitation. Not even your washing basket is safe from bad planet creature invasion.

Framed in a polystyrene horror house with filmic windows, flames mediated via projected image, Frumpus bodies dressed in Super-8 screams and psychotic struggles for help, help, the performance space is a kind of eternal movie set silhouette, a malleable site in which to enact the inevitable death scenes, the sort that seem to just fill with blood until the next big baddie moves in for the kill. These demons have taken the form of some other Frumpus frightener: scary nurse-vamps with cigarette holes for mouths. Red worms from the planet Camp. An action flick duo who punch-glove martial art their way to the knife point of death. Did I mention Buffy?

Enter a Twin Peaks procession of bloodied feet wigged-out morphed heads who will take the applause anyhow. Cos they’ve walked so far. In heels, no less. Probably across some desolate bridges. Their deaths and lynchings were staged over at least 20-odd takes. It’s about getting that right expression. That perfect look of fear.

Crazed is an audio-bite cut-up live show of blood-curdling screams, breathless voices pleading to the insane one to please stop knocking, even though we all know what’s gonna happen next...but Frumpus has gotta run, over the moors, into the dark night.

Fire, walk with Frumpus.

Frumpus, Crazed, director Cheryle Moore, performers/devisors Janine Garrier, Lauri Kilfoyle, Lenny Ann Low, Cheryle Moore, Julie Vulcan; video & video Samuel James, sound, Gail Priest & Cheryle Moore; presented by Vitalsatistix Theatre Company, Adelaide University, Adelaide Fringe, Feb 21-March 7

Jason Sweeney is a sound and performance-maker in transit. He is also a core artist and curator with Adelaide-based live arts company, para//elo.

RealTime issue #60 April-May 2004 pg. 40

© Jason Sweeney; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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