Yes, it’s time for the wild and wacky Melbourne Fringe Festival again. After many years, my passably good to horrifically awful show-going ratio is sitting about 50-50. In the words of Forrest Gump ‘Fringe is like a box of chocolates . You never know what you’re gonna get’.
With Copernicus, what you get is a slumber-inducing show about Nicholas Copernicus. Who? According to Wikipedia, Nicholas Copernicus was the first astronomer to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology, which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe. Scintillating stuff if you lived in the 1500s but probably not an obvious subject for a hit fringe festival show.
So why did I choose to see it? Basically, I did a Year 6 project on Nicholas Copernicus (Galileo was already taken), I like supporting emerging artists and the unique staging sounded really cool – the 180 degree surrounds of the Skydome Theatre at the Melbourne Planterium, complete with reclining seats . Those seats were really the last nail in the coffin for this less-than-exciting bed time story. All those long-winded monologues, intervals of soothing Baroque music and repetitive interpretative dances in dim surroundings meant that it was just so easy to fall asleep. The only time I noticed any sign of animation in RM was when he started silently giggling in the last scene as the dying Copernicus started to see his dead parents and relatives, just like the final scene of the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy wakes up.
I didn’t hate it, but RM said he would have walked out if he could have easily gotten out of his 45 degree recline. I certainly wouldn’t recommend making a trip to middle-of-nowhere Spotwood to see it and at $25 it hurts that it cost the same as my tickets to the Melbourne Theatre Company’s excellent productions of God of Carnage and August: Osage County.