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FRINGE TWENTY17: Paradise Lost @ STC

Words By: Laurent Shervington

Upon walking into the ‘Flaming Locomotive Engine Room’ at the State Theatre Centre and seeing the setup, I felt I had a fairly good understanding of what was to come.

A man, covered in white chalk, wearing nothing but a pale white jockstrap, standing in the centre of the makeshift stage. His gaze was aimed downwards and he was breathing slowly. Entertainment was quickly sourced from the arrival of new audience members, who would often do a double-take of the setup and hastily find their seat. Faint piano made the pre-show atmosphere all the more eerie and jarring.

As the music faded out and the lights sharpened, a more precarious silence shifted into focus.

Christopher Samuel Carroll’s chaotic interpretation of John Milton’s 1667 epic, was a mesmerising cavalcade of bizzaro theatre, inspired equally by the power of body performance as it was the poem itself. A perhaps obvious but nonetheless striking part of the performance was Carroll’s incredibly smooth segues into each character. Playing the fairly imposing characters of God, Adam, Eve and Satan in quick succession, the intonation, inflection and personality of each character had been thought out to a tee, it’s execution supported by strong changes in stage lighting. Each move Carroll made was purposeful, carrying the action to all parts of the ground level stage, at one point acting out Satan’s entrance to Eden with great expression.

After the final line of the nearly 1-hour performance, Carroll resumed his stance at the centre of the stage, piano filtering back through the speakers. No biggie.