Live review: Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness
Sydney Theatre Company
Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tim Burton fans will find much to ooh and ahh about in this visual feast of dark imaginings directed by Sarah Goodes. Scottish playwright Anthony Neilson has devised a close-knit Victorian theatre troupe in the 19th-century freak show tradition: an eccentric cast of characters and sorry tales are embellished, stitch by stitch, with the outrageous creativity of costume designers Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales (of Australian high fashion label Romance Was Born). The hype surrounding their patchwork menagerie of sequins, pearls, and antique lace is richly deserved – the play itself would seem substantially less tragic and poetic without such flavourful, extroverted staging.

Throughout the course of the 90-minute extravaganza we meet a downtrodden young girl (Emily Tomlins) whose explosive acne yields fine pearls instead of puss, a sassy Indian guru named Ranjeev the Uncomplicated (Lindsay Farris) and an abandoned teddy bear looking for love in all the wrong places. A former purveyor of midget opera, the ageing ringmaster Edward Gant (Paul Bishop) prowls the aisles of the auditorium with such a powerful presence that one feels the burden of heavy secrets carried under his...