Creator: Pony Cam
What could be a way to get repetitive strain injury (RSI) is also probably the strangest show in this year’s Brighton Fringe, both in real life and online. A Red Square, by Australian company Pony Cam, tells the story of its eponymous hero through the medium of PowerPoint. Clicking through 5000 slides on your laptop does require some patience, but it makes for a very different experience.
Because the show is formed of three PowerPoints (one for each act), this also means that you’re obliged to download quite a lot of MBs onto your computer as well as upload a photo to Pony Cam. But once downloaded, everything does run smoothly and, as it’s your finger clicking the next button, you can go at your own speed.
Using very rudimentary animation, even more rudimentary than South Park, A Red Square starts interestingly enough. One red square meets another, and very soon they have married, bought a house and adopted a smaller red box from the local orphanage. These events happen so quickly that it may involve some backtracking to wholly grasp what’s going on.
However, domestic bliss meets disaster when the family goes on a beach holiday. On the way there one of the red boxes imagines that their plane will fall from the sky, but tragedy occurs when an adult red box gets chased by a shark, and then drowns. It seems as if the rest of the show will be an examination of grief, but Pony Cam has other ideas and A Red Square plays with self-reflexive postmodernism, the revenge trope in literature and film, the reality of an actor’s life, and plenty of irony.
That Pony Cam has tried to cram so much in 50-minutes of clicking is impressive and frustrating in equal measures as just when you think that the story has settled on a genre and a meaning, the narrative will then take another absurd turn, some of them too self-indulgent as when Pony Cam looks back to old reviews. But in spite of the amount of slides – they do seem endless at times – the story is still strong enough to keep you clicking.
This may be animation, but like South Park, it’s definitely for adults, and comes with various trigger warnings. If you ever wanted to know what red square pornography looks like, then here is your chance while scenes with guns are disturbing in the first act but comical in the final presentation. And perhaps it’s this final slideshow that is the most successful of the three as the story of an actor’s life in the modern age is easy to follow.
A Red Square is a novel way to present a show and, while novelty and patience can often wear thin, Pony Cam has just about squeaked through relatively unscathed. Bizarre and unique, it may be worth the RSI.
Runs here until 27 June 2021