Review: The Sensemaker – Grace Hillyer

Show: The Sensemaker
Venue: ZOO Playground
Star rating: ***
Reviewer: Grace Hillyer

Battling with an automated voice on the phone, and nothing much else. That’s the set up and premise of The Sensemaker, and it’s a very impressive feat to hold an audience for an hour with the only real dialogue coming from a pre-recorded voice. But Elsa Couvreur gives everything to her performance in order to do so, and it’s enjoyable to watch.

Playing a character with no name (that we know of), she carries out ridiculous task after ridiculous task to get an answer to an unknown question, and the piece really does wait until the last second to give you any idea what it’s all for. Undoubtedly a stylistic choice, for me it didn’t quite have the impact intended. It just took too long to get there. Every attempt at humour, while indeed funny, was reliant on building to that moment with repeated motifs and as a viewer that posed problems. The structure of the piece became quite predictable, I found myself losing interest at times because I knew where the gag would come in. While dragging out the story worked for the first joke, it soon became tiresome.

However the piece redeemed itself when it took on a darker tone. Suddenly what had been funny before was now intrusive, wrong and distressing to watch. I could almost physically feel the violation experienced by the character, and Couvreur did a fantastic job of portraying that. It’s a shame this part only took up a small fraction of the piece right at the end – this was to me what was interesting and has potential to be expanded upon. The moments I remember most from the piece, other than an incredible explosion of a weird and wonderful dance, were all contained to the last 15 minutes or so. Still, the whole piece did make for an intriguing comment on technology within our society.

By the end of the play, I left feeling as though I had definitely seen one of the more interesting and unique pieces at the fringe. I just wish there had been more content within it.

The Sensemaker: tickets available here
ZOO Playground
19-26 August (not 21)
3.15pm (1 hour)

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