The first thing that strikes you as you enter the theatre space at the Old Fitz for the latest staging of Marshall Napier’s FREAK WINDS is Lisa Mimmocchi’s set, walls Tuscan red with rising damp, paint peeling and damp bubbling, depicting and anticipating the troubling to come.
This decrepit and decaying house is the habitat of Ernest, who may or not be a homicidal maniac. At the beginning of the show he appears to be a harmless and somewhat debilitated man dependent on a cheap Zimmer frame.
On a wild and freakishly windy evening, insurance salesman Henry Crumb literally blows into Ernest’s lair, determined to sell him a policy. When part of his pitch mentions children, Ernest’s bonhomie evaporates, he rushes from the room, and vomits.
Left alone, Henry spies a scrapbook which he discovers is full of cuttings about sinister events.
The keen sound of the sharpening of a knife emanates from the area Ernest has disappeared.
From a double doors built into the staircase burst a woman in a wheelchair. This is Myra, quick with an offer of massage for the hyper tense Crumb.
Anna Bamford as Myra swings from fragile victim to Ernest’s foul sluttish heir during the course of the second act, from prim paraplegic to skittish school uniformed fetishist and self-proclaimed sexual deviant.
Ben O’Toole as Henry Crumb has all the sweaty swagger of the cocksure salesman and energises his role with a charge that would short circuit the battery bunny.
Marshall Napier as Ernest has the benign menace of a mild mannered maniac, bespectacled beast on callipers, conjuring a Richard III, although we know he’s up for sportive tricks determined to prove his villainy.
FREAK WINDS is Australian Gothic , a grotesque and grandiose Guignal playing in the bowels of The Old Fitzroy through March