Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at aridhianderson.com.
A funny and exquisitely charming show about a duck
Pisca is a heart-warming cabaret about a playful duck who loves life. There are many unique and quirky offerings at the Melbourne Fringe Festival, but even at Fringe you won't often get a chance to watch a grown man walkabout on stage wearing feathers and face paint, quacking politely in duck-English, blowing bubbles, smelling flowers, chasing lasers, and singing love songs. And pulling it off so persuasively that you actually forget he's not a real duck.
Cameron Taylor plays Pisca to perfection. From the very beginning, where he enacts his back story/his parents' love story using sock puppets (that he is wearing as socks on his feet), it is evident that Taylor is a gifted physical artist, and he proves it without doubt over the course of the show. He is gentle yet masterful in his many interactions with simple props, with invisible objects and environments that he creates through mime, and with his audience. His sound effects - both pre-recorded and vocalized - are always on point. The ease with which he conveys ideas of space and dimension, the physics of size, weight and force, and above all, the emotional experience of navigating his physical world, has a soothing, refreshing quality that makes this show a meditative experience. This is a remarkable feat, considering that this show is also extremely funny and often has its audience in splits, in deep belly laughter.
The heart of this show lies in the simplicity and universality of emotions that it explores, and the warmth and goodwill with which it engages its audience. The audience are often invited to participate in Pisca's exploration of his world - whether through sound effects, physical actions, or engagement with the fun things he finds on his adventures. These interactions are friendly, gentle, well-supported, and always feel safe. Taylor's characterization of Pisca is exquisitely conveyed through his facial and physical expressiveness, sound effects, movement, and music, but minimal spoken words. The only time you hear Taylor's true "human" voice is when he sings - his singing voice is mesmerizing. However, rather than cause him to break out of character, the human songs give Pisca a certain depth and air of mystery, and point to a deeper experience of life that is perhaps masked to some degree by all his playful physical explorations.
Pisca's story is sweet, light, gentle, and yet meaningful. This duck is a survivor, an explorer, a friendly traveller on the journey of life, and ultimately a champion. The things he encounters in this hour may appear simple and every day, but to him they are significant, and through his experiences, he learns to be safe, to be independent, to find joy, and to win. Pisca is a gorgeous show, one of the highlights of this year's Fringe, and I'd recommend it to anyone without hesitation.