Audience Makes the Difference: Review of Subtlenuance’s All the Difference
Sydney Fringe brings out the potential for the novel and experimental. In the intimate space of the Old505 theatre, Subtlenuance is marrying choose your own adventure with live performance. Upon entering you are given a green plate with a Y on one side an N on the other. At various points throughout the show the audience is invited to vote on what they think Felicity (Flik) should do and the audience’s choice changes the outcome of the story. It’s a cute idea, and with a running time of only 45 minutes the novelty doesn’t have time to wear off.
All the Difference is a one woman show with Kathryn Schuback playing Flik, our indecisive heroine. We instantly delight in Schuback who is a warm, genuine performer. Her greatest asset is the ease with which she connects to her audience, making them feel welcome every step of the journey. Schuback produces wonderfully sombre moments and finds great poise in others, though her comedic timing was not at its best. Certainly, Schuback can deliver a line, but a gimmick emerged where all punchlines were delivered at lightning speed. The repetitive, somewhat unimaginative construction of the joke material may have contributed to this, however. Overall, Schuback was enjoyable and did her best with a script that is slightly underdeveloped, though particularly demanding of this single performer. A small bout of nerves may have got the better of Schuback on opening night, though, to her credit, she recovered well. The show must go on.
We are told that the play is an examination of choice. In life we are bombarded with decisions, it can become paralyzing to the point that we sometimes make decisions by pretending we really had no choice in the matter. Dig much deeper and we start getting into the realms of determinism, free will and Satre’s bad faith. No doubt this subject is rich for exploration but All the Difference only just starts to scratch the surface. The plot is a little run of the mill – girl meets boy, should they move in together, should they have children, etc… For the most part the choices the audience is presented with will almost always meet with the same outcome; there were maybe two decisions that looked like they might have gone either way, but otherwise it looks like writer Paul Gilchrist has staked the deck a little to make sure the play goes where he wants it. But maybe that is supposed to highlight the illusion of choice for us. While we like to think we are in control of our lives, hard determinism would argue that we never really have a choice, and our lives will proceed in a predestined fashion as determined by previously established initial conditions. Theatre is no different. We come in to watch a story, and even though we don’t know how it’ll end the end is already there, we just haven’t gotten to it yet. Is All the Difference any different? While the piece certainly doesn’t give any real overt payoff or deeper examination of this theme, it certainly invites its audience to ask these questions.
All the Difference is playing at the Old505 as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival until the 26th of September. For more information see: