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Tales of an Urban Indian - Adelaide Fringe Review

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by Jonathon Tonkin (subscribe)
I'm a 26 year old male Senior Reporter for Weekend Notes. I Graduated from A Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing and Communication) at UniSA in 2014. As well as writing for WN I have also done pieces for the Adelaide 36s and Mawson Lakes Living.
Event: -
4 Stars-An informative experience into Native American Life
Tales of an Urban Indian is a story that follows a native American residing in Canada, who is struggling against a world that's stacked against him. Even though it's a story which was developed a long way away from the shores of Australia, it shares many parallels with the struggles that our own native Australians face.

Tales of an Urban Indian follows Simon Douglas (Brendan Chandler) as he recounts his life. From his youth growing up on a reservation to his adult life on the streets of Vancouver. Through his early years Simon experiences a yearning to fit it, separation from his father and the suicides of other children on the reservation. Life on the reservation is bleak, which fuels his desire to leave the reservation and go to Vancouver. When his mother does eventually move into the city, he is engulfed in a new culture and way of life. Alcohol and drugs eventually consume Simon and his life spirals.

Tales of an Urban Indian is a one-man show, expertly played by Brendan Chandler. Chandler flows from character to character, scene to scene, effortlessly. The plot itself is a simple retelling of a broken life but these memories are made vivid with Chandler's description and more importantly his energy. As Chandler paces up and down the bus, he engages with the audience. He drags them into his space and puts the audience up close and personal with his characters.

A unique aspect to Tales of an Urban Indian is its stage. The show is performed on a moving bus. Going from stop to stop and integrating its travels with the show. The bus is somewhat relevant with a couple of the stops resembling the current scene and the doors opening when a character leaves the story. For the most part though, it is underutilised, with the majority of the show not impacted by what's happening around you. The one aspect that having the show on a bus accentuates is the performance's intensity and intimacy. Viewing the show in such an enclosed space allows Chandler to effectively reflect his emotion on the audience and really let you feel the highs and the lows of Simon's journey, like heat radiating from hot metal.

Tales of an Urban Indian is one of three shows being displayed in Adelaide during the Fringe from Talk is Free Theatre. A Canadian based production company, which is looking to bring an annual 'Canada Capsule' to Adelaide. Along with Tales of an Urban Indian, you can also catch For Both Resting and Breeding. Information for both shows can be found on the Fringe website.
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When: 18 Feb - 1 Mar
Where: The Bus Stop at The Bus Stop - Adelaide Botanic Garden International Rose Garden, Adelaide Botanic Garden, Adelaide 5000
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