Review: output (Coleman Grehan)

Coleman Grehan performs output at the Fringe Brisbane Hub. Imagery supplied.

Incorporating spoken word, movement, and electronic music, Coleman Grehan’s solo show output was a raw and sincere contemplation of art, creativity, and mortality, performed as part of the inaugural Fringe Brisbane programme.

An award-winning theatre director and sound designer returning to theatre-making after burnout, Grehan’s script incorporated candid reflections on the ever-changing tastes and expectations of the artistic and social media arenas; the changing use of artificial intelligence and algorithms; the addictive nature of the endless scroll and overconsumption of content; and the pressure on creative practitioners to constantly consume and create in an ever-changing marketplace and media landscape.

Coleman Grehan performs output at the Fringe Brisbane Hub. Imagery supplied.

A voice modulator on Grehan’s handheld microphone varied the pitch of his voice throughout, although these distortions sometimes muffled his enunciation and made individual words difficult to distinguish. Dressed in a neutral-coloured tracksuit and sneakers, Grehan moved through the space while he performed, occasionally using a chair and sitting, standing, or lying on the stairs and the floor. Lighting bars produced intense, saturating colours and handheld lighting was also used effectively, especially when synchronised with the sound design in simulating use of a mobile phone.

Somewhere between soliloquy, spoken word poetry, and rap, with shades of Patricia Lockwood and Bo Burnham, Grehan’s performance varied between conversational and inner monologue. Shadowed by existential dread, output asked the kinds of questions that plague most working artists: When does a hobby become a career, and when does a career return to being a hobby? Are you still a theatre maker if you haven’t made any theatre recently? Will your creative output live on after you are gone?

Coleman Grehan performs output at the Fringe Brisbane Hub. Imagery supplied.

Coleman Grehan’s output captured the spirit of a fringe festival – personal, experimental, almost uncomfortable in its sincerity and vulnerability – as it considered art, self, society, and mortality in a genre-defying, theatrical spoken word performance set to electronic music.

output will play at the Fringe Brisbane Hub, South Brisbane, from 21 October – 4 November 2022.

For ticketing and further information, visit the Fringe Brisbane website

To find more of Coleman’s work, visit his website here

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