I want to start at the end with this review. My Love Had a Black Speed Stripe had just finished, the audience had it’s chance to give their applause and was interrupted by the main actor, Sandro Colarelli who made a speech about the state of independent arts in response to the recent Federal Budget cuts to the independent sector.

““If you enjoyed the show – and even if you didn’t – given the current political climate annd attitude towards independent artists – please go and tell your friends – spread the word – and support independent theatre – you can see 2 or 3 indie shows for the price of one well-funded show from one of the ‘big’ state companies; Indie theatre – is unfunded – and created by unpaid professional artists – we need your audience support more than ever”

— Sandro Colarelli, courtesy of Fractal Theatre Production’s Facebook.

This passionate speech by a fellow independent artist gives incredible insight into life as an independent artists and should be held as a call to arms for every independent artist as well as audience members from all backgrounds. The next few years are going to be tough for independent arts, and it is the collective duty of the entire arts community to fight through these troubled times until, hopefully, reform does come.

Now, onto the show.

This is the first show I’ve seen for Anywhere Theatre Festival that I can confidently say is a completed, fully-polished production. all of the other shows I have seen have been in one level of development or another, so Speed Stripe was a refreshing change.

My Love Had a Black Speed Stripe is a genuine, no holds barred piece of true Australian Gothic theatre. A dark tale of a obsessive, misogynistic, racist factory worker and car enthusiast who has no limits to what he will do to achieve his ultimate happiness. Just good old Ron and his Holden Monaro, alone together until Ron has finished his never ending project. This man is car obsessed as they come. If his car could cook for him and have sex with him, he likely wouldn’t leave his garage, however this perfect partnership has a 5/8” spanner thrown in the works by his wife Rose, and the new neighbours, the Eastern European refugee Michael and his Australian wife, Marlene. As Rose becomes closer to her neighbours, her relationship with Ron becomes more and more fragile. In Ron’s eyes, Rose is not the woman she used to be. You could feel something bad was going to happen from the first minute, and in the end; whilst fulfiling the prophecy, was a bold and thrilling way to go about ending the piece.

The story was told remarkably through Colarelli’s incredible performance, accompanied by the heavily ritualised, circus inspired physical narrative told by the other three performers. The energy of the performance of the accompanying performers seemed a little flat, which is forgivable as it was likely a flat night (as a performer, the third night is almost always the worst in my experiences). The soundtrack, which can be found on Fractal’s Youtube channel is incredible, less than 24 hours after the show, I already have it on most of my playlists on my iPod. The technical standards of the piece were one of the highest that I have seen in this Anywhere Festival, however the lighting seemed to be mis-operated. Lighting cues seemed poorly paced, and often didn’t light what the audience wanted to see. Colarelli seemed to have troubles finding his lights in some crucial moments, which was a little off-putting (if I’m being picky).

Speed Stripe is a breath of fresh air for me. A truly Gothic piece, a brilliantly polished production and an incredible theatrical experience. The interactions between characters were classic, especially between the mechanically illiterate “commie” Michael, and the increasingly frustrated “Ronald”, as Michael called him (much to Ron’s disdain).

The show was one that I never really expected to excel, even though I should have, seeing their previous seasons and successful tours to other Anywhere Festival locations. I wholly recommend this piece to anyone who has the time to see the show. Get in early, get in the front rows, in the face of the performance and immerse yourself in a chilling yet hilarious piece of theatre. By far the best piece I have seen this year.

My Love Had a Black Speed Stripe runs until the 23rd of May. I highly recommend you seeing this. Get your tickets at http://anywherefest.com/buy-tickets/speed-stripe/

Make sure you like Fractal Theatre Productions on Facebook as well for a heap of updates on upcoming shows.

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