Have you ever watched an Olympic gymnast perform a breathtaking routine, full of twists and turns and surprises?
At the end of the routine, your life has not been changed, you’ve received no profound insights, but you’re satisfied by the entertainment you’ve witnessed.
In An Unseasonable Fall of Snow, playwright Gary Henderson has devised a writer’s version of a precision gymnastics routine.
In full knowledge of the 60-minute clock counting down, de rigueur for Fringe plays, Henderson wastes no time with his characters. Instead, he plunges them straight into the claustrophobic and rarefied atmosphere of an interrogation room.
Adding to the enthrallment is the fact that we are not given any great context or back story to the scenario.
We are equally as lost and bewildered as Liam (Jacob Houston), who stumbles into the interrogation space, guarded and disoriented.
In stark contrast, Arthur (Gavin Cianci), is “at home”, comfortably in control of the environment and his prey.
The plot is then revealed. Arthur has a jigsaw puzzle of clues and his goal is to make Liam fit into that puzzle so it can be solved.
What ensues is an hour of cat-and-mouse dialogue; Arthur laying traps and flexing his cross-examination muscles, while Liam cowers and deflects before striking back in his own ways as a cornered quarry would.
Arthur’s trump card relates to an unseasonable fall of snow in spring and our curiosity is captured in anticipation of if, when, or how he might spring that trap, so to speak.
Cianci gives a solid performance as the all-powerful inquisitor, enhanced by the masterful orchestration of Arthur’s demeanour and emotion. Director, Darrin Redgate, has ensured that Cianci does not dwell at either end of his range, but spends his fury and his sinister silences prudently. Likewise, Houston’s consummate performance authentically conveys incoherent bafflement; he evokes a sense of true bewilderment, while also betraying a sense that Liam has used these grunts and dismissals, and his annoying ability to truncate statements into questions, as a tried-and-true method of running interference while buying time to think.
The interplay between Cianci and Houston is a joy to behold. They have us glued to our seats like we’re the ones who’ve been summoned to a mysterious room for questioning.
Is An Unseasonable Fall of Snow an enjoyable play? Yes.
Will you derive a clear understanding of the puzzling ending? Well, in the words of Arthur, maybe you should get yourself some opinions!