CASTING OFF @ De Parel Spiegeltent gets 8.5/10

Casting Off 
@ De Parel Spiegeltent
Wednesday, January 22, 2020


Get ready for your jaw to drop at the strength, agility, compassion, creativity, and wisdom of these three incredible performers. Casting Off, presented by A Good Catch, is a wonderful combination of spoken word and remarkable (and remarkably dangerous) acrobatics in the De Parel Spiegeltent at The Woodside Pleasure Garden this Fringe.

The Spiegeltent is an absolutely gorgeous venue, the stained-glass windows and theatre-in-the-round stage providing the magical atmosphere to complement this unique and impressive piece. Performers Debra Batton, Sharon Gruenert, and Spenser Inwood are dressed in beautiful, brightly coloured crocheted outfits that suit the space, and they’re sat around what feels like a kitchen table while the audience filters in.

Straight off the bat it is apparent that these three have an incredible relationship, their chemistry permeates the performance immediately. They introduce the show casually, and the same understated vibe is present throughout the show despite the immensity of the physical feats they achieve. Early on, they consider the greeting “ladies and gentlemen”, wondering whether there is a better way, whether there is something more inclusive. After all, this is a show about subverting conformist stereotypes, whether to do with age or gender or any other arbitrary way by which we label people. Without being overly preachy or prescriptive, the ideas that come through the dialogue between these talented artists as they tumble, fly and balance precariously is as impressive as the physical action. The presence of mind, concentration and skill this must take is mind-boggling.

What really adds to the wow factor of this show is the care with which each of this trio treats and handles one another. Each physical transition is completed slowly and deliberately, giving one another the time needed with an obvious trust that is extremely moving. They played little games with each other, making the crowd feel like they’re getting a glimpse of an inside joke; they supported each other, but firmly, with no drama or fuss, telling each other to “Go on, let it all out, you’ll feel better” or “All right, off you go.” They seamlessly meshed sadness and frivolity with a light touch that merely hints at the vast spectrum of topics that is covered in this show, using their bodies as a way to add physicality to what is explored.

In what feels like different little segments, there is a theme to each, ranging from shouting out the different roles that these women might play in their lives, to a rendition of a well-known nursery rhyme, to giving one-liners of advice – all accompanied by dangerous stunts that have you sitting on the edge of your seat wanting to yell at them to please, please be safe. They remained cool and calm while the audience worried for them, somehow balancing themselves on tables, chairs and each other in ways that defy logic.

And ohhh, the pearls of wisdom they had to offer. There was something there that you needed to hear, today, in this phase of your life, that made you wipe a tear from your eye as you sat in awe and gratitude. This is a show for everyone in your family, with impressive physical feats that stun, while being uplifting and heartwarming with advice for each of us regardless of where we are at. Seriously, your eyes won’t believe the stunts these women are capable of.