Quarter Bar Adelaide Festival Centre 6pm 24th June 2023.
The desert is a desolate and dangerous place in this theatre piece by Fleur Green. She appears solo as composer and lyricist, a surprising beginning, when somehow I expected an ensemble of players and musicians. The ‘visceral performance art’ announced in the program is presumably still in development.
The unwelcoming nature of the environment is echoed in the people of the town she visits. Gradually a few allies are made, and connections blossom. When it’s time for her to go, no one is brave enough to leave behind what they know, and venture with her beyond their familiar world.
Fleur’s virtuoso performance at the piano is the sole accompaniment, the songs gaining momentum as they progressed. However, the first three or so songs had edgy, chopped, staccato rhythms that drowned the lyrics, with these coming in the same form and on the beat. This left us wondering what their content had to say to the story.
Fortunately, this was cleverly told through recorded poetry, alternating with the songs. The excellent, evocative words set the scenes and moved the settings along. “The sun-singed silence”…was obviously a call for Fleur to fill it with her music. The songs soon became fuller and understandable too, with vibrant vowels lengthening as Fleur gave her open voice to songs like “The Ghost Men”, and “I Want to Know What Tomorrow May Bring.”
She finds someone there to share her pain with, “I Am Broken,” and she ponders whether… ‘sin and guilt weigh you down’ when you sail out through the storms. There is even a nod to Paul Keating’s ‘I Want To Do You Slowly,’ which of course made it into the musical about him by Casey Bennetto.
Is the bleak and barren desert she sees a reflection of her inner searching?
One thing’s for sure, the desert is as vast and unknown as the human psyche. As the bard says, ‘’tis nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’ Or these days, ‘if you think you can or can’t, you’re right.’
Her plaintive pleas for peace of mind and solitude may sound elusive in the searing heat, but the uplifting melodies and soaring vocals show a positive attitude to the challenges of communicating these serious issues, mental health and climate change. ‘Stay Lucky, My Friend’ is such a song, and the audience warmly applauded this rich body of work.