Rebecca Varidel
15th Mar 2023

A whiff of brilliance fills the air making up the space between breaths in Margret Perry’s 2019 Edinburgh Fringe hit Collapsible, a titillating freefall ripe with originality, wit and charm. Essie (Janet Anderson) has lost her job and broken up with her girlfriend, keeping it together has become the new falling apart. Playing at The Old Fitz Theatre until the 1st of April, Collapsible is directed by Zoë Hollyoak & Morgan Moroney.

Both space and text were most becoming on and served as a perfect platform for the revelation that is Jannet Anderson. I am certain it has been said before about the star of Darlinghurst Theatre Co.’s Overflow and I am certain it will be said again and again, she is uncompromisingly magnificent. And you can take that to the bank. Anderson glides on a gilded cushion of technique and truth, tastefully touching the tips of our tired hearts with a towering talent. This towering, touching and tasteful theatrical theodolite does traipse her way from beat to beat with a measured intensity and no hint of histrionic headiness. Hallelujah.

I have often considered composing an assessment of Sydney’s auditoriums. And while this article is not that, I feel a special mention is warranted. The Old Fitz Theatre may well have the most uncomfortable seats 2nd only to the Dame Joan Sutherland Theatre. Tiny slanted benches crammed shoulder to shoulder with fidgety patrons who cannot get comfortable. Whilst sitting in the front row a mistimed cross of the legs may shoot you out onto the stage if you aren't careful. Otherwise, the admirable space is intimate, exciting and utterly charming - with a quaint air of pleasing off-beat outré which other pub/theatre’s have failed (but oh so desperately tried) to capture.

Daniel Herten’s sound design was a particularly noteworthy element of the evening, understated and yet matching the electric emotional pace and tone of the work beat for beat. Other creative elements; Hayden Relf’s set and costume and Morgan Moroney’s lighting can also be spoken of with much positivity. Liminal, stark, detailed and somewhat claustrophobic. Zoë Hollyoak & Morgan Moroney’s direction had a particular attractiveness on the whole if not for the production’s primary device;

The evening’s artifice was, as with so many others, an attempt to surf the crest of the tallest wave in the Sydney theatre populus at the moment, a wave set into motion primarily (but not exclusively) by the popularity of STC’s ‘Dorian Gray’. Kip Williams threw a camera live-linked to a digital screen into the sea-scape that is the Sydney theatre world and everybody has been trying to catch their own reflection in its ripples ever since. I found myself overwhelmed and underwhelmed with all the additional technical elements as I frantically darted my eyes from place to place in an attempt not to miss anything. I wasn’t missing much. What I did end up missing in all the hurrah was the text and performer. Cutting edge motion-capture, live video feed and backstage action projected onto the set attempted to overshadow every other element of the production as a breaking wave became a drowning tidal wave. The necessity of these effects were not justified or warranted in the space, the text or the enjoyment of the evening. Nor was there a nuanced ripple amplified by its presence, but rather diminished by it’s overcrowding.

Despite my distaste for its crowded technical showcase, which may well ring out pleasingly to your taste for spectacle, Collapsible is worth flocking to so you can say “I saw Jannet Anderson at the Old Fitz before she was famous”.