Fringe Festival Review: FracturReview by Kimberley Crayton-Brown
Urban Vineyard theatre cooperative
13–16 Feb, 8pm
email@example.com, 802 4175
Image from Fringe website
The show begins with creator and director Vanja Draganic addressing the audience, explaining her reasons for wanting to recreate the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment.
“My father was shot by a neighbour,” she says, “they called it ethnic cleansing.”
She wanted to explore what caused the ‘fracturs’ between people and cultures, and Fractur is the result.
Described as documentary theatre, the audience is led to believe what they are witnessing is based on actual events. Throughout the play the actors acknowledge they are part of an experiment, and the director herself appears from time to time to check their progress.
The audience is told eight actors volunteered to spend six days locked in a hall in the Waikato, divided into prisoners and guards. What happened over those days was filmed, edited, and then turned into a script.
Over an hour the audience observe relationships breaking down between actors who were previously friends; prisoners who turn on each other, and guards whose sudden power over others often becomes violent.
The basic lighting and set help create an image of a hall or “prison”, with actors breaking the fourth wall between scenes to explain to the audience their reasons for participating in the experiment, or to justify their behaviour.
There are some intense moments in this play, and the small size of the Bats theatre means the audience are often left feeling slightly uncomfortable.
This tension builds until the final, explosive scene of the play where each character turns on another, chairs are thrown, and the director bursts onto the stage.
One character runs into the audience, screaming for their help, then the actors rush backstage and the show abruptly ends.
There were times during this play where the idea of it being based on real events added to its effect. It was hard to believe a human being could treat another this way, that the people in front of you had acted this way, and this is what made the action on stage so shocking.
And even though it turns out the entire play is fiction and Vanja Draganic is only a character (the play was actually written and directed by David Foote), [select text to read spoilers] it succeeds in leaving you questioning human nature, and wondering what it is about power that makes people act the way they do and create such ‘fracturs’.