likenobodyswatching | Jake SimondsSurreal story telling marked by modern day myths and heroes.

Storyteller, dancer, quasi-mystic poet, Jake Simonds weaves a timeless tale that is relentlessly contemporary in its sources.

Opening with an artist disclaimer, highly relevant in a FringeWorld tent venue, Simonds advises that the inherent premise of the show about isolation and abandonment still stands, despite the raucous bursts of music and cheers from nearby venues. With inspiration, he ties the boisterous sounds into his premise of being marooned on a remote island – “a party ship is passing by, but they’re having such a good time so there is still no hope of rescue”. Despite that, it becomes easy to see how this work should and could work so effectively without the audible distractions.

Simonds presents his piece on a stark set, simple wooden floor bounded by a rope, a simple wooden chair, a slightly flat basketball and himself a wild-haired, wild-eyed man in a loincloth. Part lecture, part drama, part interpretive dance, Simonds foregoes linear narrative in an earnest, surreal and witty contemplation on the universal nature of loneliness and isolation. Drawing on pop culture, his own life experiences and an idiosyncratic analytical perspective, he creates a rambunctious yet thoughtful journey through a life marked by consumption of movies, sorry, films.

Simonds takes inspiration for the premise of his work from Tom Hanks’ role in Cast Away. Isolated on an island, desperate for the camaraderie of shared experience, Simonds is repeatedly rejected by sardonic voiceover responses from the basketball, imbued with the spirit and acerbic commentary of Spalding Gray. Simonds shares his obsession with films, providing surprising insights into the percentage of Cast Away that is not set on the island. Quibbling over who gets to play which character, they re-enact various film scenes, Simonds describing them in detail and becoming discursive over their insights into human nature and universal yet individual experiences of longing and self-isolation. His random soliloquies on his own awkwardnesses, accompanied by slowing winding the rope into an ever reduced border are intimate and entice us to join him in random, specific moments of tragi-comic tripping up of self. The ever diminishing space embodies Simonds’ sense of isolation even, or especially, within crowded cities and social events.

Prompted by Spalding Gray, in an attempt to gain co-operation to act out the “scene in the rain”, Simonds does “the dance”. Remarkable in its ungainly moves with sudden bursts from the vertical to the horizontal, random moves abruptly cutting one from the other, the choreography is bizarre, energetic and disconcerting. Even though this reviewer has never seen any of the many popular films that rate a mention in this monologue, it is objectively impressive to see a reprise of “the dance” as a finale, this time performed in front of a screen displaying a mashed up eclectic collection of clips from many films relating to solitude, isolation and loneliness. Simonds dances like nobody’s watching, taking the moves straight from films that so many people have watched, creating something new and wonderful in the process.

Melancholy developments, punctuated with surreal and physical humour, likenobodyswatching is a unique monologue that brings us together in its celebration of extreme isolation.

Jake Simonds presents

Venue: Ramp, Ice Cream Factory, Northbridge WA
Dates: 6 – 13 February 2018

Part of FringeWorld 2018


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