Written and performed by Jessica Harlond-KennyDirected by Leah Mercer
Sound and Lighting designed by Joe Lui
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Fremantle
Until Nov 9
You have to like what performance artist Jessica Harlond-Kenny attempts in The Hardest Way to Make an Omelette, which is appearing in tandem with Shirley Van Sanden’s excellent The Warrior and the Princess at Spare Parts as part of the Fremantle Festival.
The attempt, though, is more impressive than the show.
Harlond-Kenny uses making an omelette (and, you bet, you can’t do it without breaking eggs) as a metaphor for finding balance in life. The eggs in her story assume passive/aggressive characters, a little like the good devil and bad devil on our shoulders. More and more eggs magically appear – she has very fine sleight of hand – along with the other appurtenances of a hearty breakfast, until the whole disaster is beaten, blitzed, smashed and diced into a suddenly well-made plateful. We get the message.It’s a very satisfying ending, especially if you’ve had a life-long ambition to make an unholy mess in a kitchen. The piece has an equally impressive beginning, as a reluctant Harlond-Kenny is awoken by a critter with a fascination for her bosom and the inside of her mouth. It’s a hand puppet – it really IS a hand puppet – and it’s an engaging little scamp.
In between, while there are more good things (a sausage becoming an obscene-looking tongue, a la Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters, is a particularly funny example), there are long stretches where Harlond-Kenny and director Leah Mercer seem to have run out of dramatically sustainable ideas, and the action bogs down terribly. For all her skills of puppetry and legerdemain, Harlond-Kenny lacks, or at least hasn’t yet acquired, those of nuance and dramatic restraint, and there ensue extended bouts of purposeless wailing and yelling that are plain excruciating.
Harlond-Kenny has talent and imagination, and Mercer is a fine director, as she demonstrated in last year’s brilliant Eve, at the Blue Room, but I’m afraid this one has gone the way of Humpty Dumpty.
This review appeared in The West Australian 2.11.13