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April 3, 2006 | by  | in Theatre | [ssba]

The Brilliant Fassah

Nathan is a pretty ordinary guy. He has a pretty ordinary job at the local high school teaching maths, has a pretty ordinary marriage to his pretty ordinary wife Claudia, and has pretty ordinary rational beliefs about the supernatural (i.e. that there is no supernatural). Everything is all pretty ordinary. That’s until, one day, he falls asleep while taking a class. This keeps recurring and eventually he is diagnosed with narcolepsy. Unfortunately the medication prescribed fails to work, so at his wife’s insistence he tries a hypno-therapist. This awakens The Brilliant Fassah, an extremely empathetic 2000 year-old Italian spirit with a gift for languages, and nothing is ever ‘pretty ordinary’ again.

The Brilliant Fassah is an extremely enigmatic little play. For example, when the audience enters the theatre the three actors are all wandering around the stage talking to each other and even engaging with the aforementioned audience (asking why, for example, a 15 year-old would wear an impeccable beige three-piece- suit, with matching shoes, fedora and cane?) Are they in character or not? I still don’t know. It is also extremely off-putting that The Brilliant Fassah, while being a comedy, takes a very serious look at the reality, or even just the perceived reality, of the existence of spirits. It comes to the subject with a very level-headed approach, neither overly kooky and spiritualistic nor dismissively rationalistic.

As a three-person show, the casting of the play is interesting. Tim Spite is the lead, transferring between the dual roles of the ‘pretty ordinary’ Nathan and the extraordinary Fassah with extreme zeal, the role suited to him perfectly. The other two actors each focus on one core character with Amy Tarleton playing Claudia, Nathan’s devoted wife and James Ashcroft as Laughton, their more than dodgy new neighbor. They also present a host of other varied characters with ease through the use of wigs and constant costume changes.

The Brilliant Fassah is set and staged beautifully. It had one of the most dynamic, visually interesting stages I have ever seen, without really even having a stage. The set consisted of five or six moveable boxes which were used to present every location in the play. They became the different locations by removing or rotating panels, revealing something completely different. For example, one panel when pulled to the floor revealed a made double bed, another tripled as a whiteboard, screen for a projector and a life-size board-room table. The third, when flipped, became a fully set dinner table with cutlery, napkins, plates and even glasses.

The Brilliant Fassah is an extremely enjoyable, dynamic and interesting play and it will definitely give you something to think about.

By Tim Spite, James Ashcroft and Gabe McDonnell
Performed by SEEyd
Circa Two 11 March – 15 April


About the Author ()

HAILING FROM the upper-middle- class hell of Havelock North, Jules is in the final semester of a bachelor’s degree in Trenchermanship (majoring in Gourmandry), is a self-professed Anarcho-Dandy and resides in the Aro Valley. He likes to spend his days pursuing whimsical follies of every sort and his evenings gallivanting through the bars and restaurants of Wellington in search of the perfect wine list. He has unfailingly dedicated his life to the excessive consumption of food and drink (despite having no discernable way of paying for it), and expects to die of simultaneous heart and kidney failure at thirty-nine. His only hope is that very soon people will start to pay him for his opinions (of which he is endowed with aplenty). Jules has a penchant for vintage Oloroso.

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