Brisbane Festival: The Shrink and Swell of Knots

23 September 2014 | 4:36 pm | Helen Stringer

Fashion doyenne Coco Chanel once said that before you leave the house you should look in the mirror and take at least one thing off. This is advice theatre-maker and performer Ben Grant should heed if given the opportunity to further develop The Shrink And Swell Of Knots

The Shrink…begins with a man building a coffin – one that simply allows the person to be what they have always been: carbon and a never-ending rearranging of matter. The man is addressing his grandson throughout, attempting and largely failing to imbue some pearls of wisdom. 

Grant has a lot to do here – too much. From dragging wood, building teepees, to tying and untying knots, to folk-singing, to video projection, to hammering home an analogy that may not deserve 60 minutes of elaboration. Knots. They’re many things: they strengthen and weaken; they join disparate elements together. They’re also a measure of speed, which is, in turn, a measure of time. Point taken.

It’s saving grace is that Grant is impeccable. Compelling for the full hour, you find yourself willing the material be better developed, allowing Grant to really move the audience, without relying on every theatrical device available to single-handers. It’s a pity because in the penultimate final scene the play seems to go somewhere beautiful, somewhere simple and poignant. And then Grant starts singing another song. It’s undemanding theatre; not knock-your-socks off moving, but warming at the least. 

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

The Shrink and Swell of Knots, Brisbane Festival, La Boite to 13 Sep.