Beast | Auckland Fringe 2015

BEAST is a performance that you will either adore or will want to leave within the first few minutes clutching your bottle of anti-bacterial wash. It’s a one man show with a vocabulary that stretches across mime, clowning, body percussion and even kung fu. Intensely physical, this is a tightly wound piece of work that dares to hinge on exploding – and then does so by breaking down any semblance of barriers between the audience and the performer.

To his credit Taylor Hall has the ability to draw all his audience members in – including a sneaky wolf who slipped in quietly to watch the show. It was after all named BEAST, the animal thought, and perhaps there is a place for dogs at a fringe show? If Hall’s work is to be taken as a case in point then the resounding answer would be YES, because not only does the skilled craftsman acknowledge his four-legged patron – he makes no distinction between him and the rest of his two-legged compatriots.

And that’s probably one of the reasons why BEAST is so successful. No, not because there is a dog in this audience (who progressively becomes bewildered as the awkward silences, deep breathing and ‘channelling’ morphs into collective chanting, clapping and movement) but because Hall simply doesn’t miss a beat. Completely dedicated to the liminal space between the points of contact between his selected audience member (and there are really few that escape) he brings a rare sense of collusion to his narrative that seems to be a descent into the depths of insanity where, as is inevitable, all is revealed to be crystal clear.

Deceptively simple, Hall’s performance is laced with nuances that could very well lead to BEAST becoming something akin to the psychedelic performances of the Blue Man Group – and while Hall might not be Blue (obviously) or use drumming to entice his audiences, it certainly has a whirling dervish quality that might continue to develop in future incarnations.

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