‘A Simple Little Knot’ was harrowing.
Step into the world of queer theatre at ‘A Simple Little Knot’, produced by the Flaming Carnations as part of Fringe Brisbane.
This newly formed theatre company is committed to supporting, uplifting and drawing attention to the independent arts scene of Brisbane. ‘A Simple Little Knot’ is a perfect production to show what this group is all about and how it fits and finds its place within the Australian arts scene.
Franz Kafka had described his relationship with his father like a trial, a judgment or a sentence. In his 1919 exegesis ‘Dearest Father,’ he wrote a scathing 103-page letter that detailed the complex history of their relationship, from birth to near-death. This letter was never read. Over 100 years on, this production adapts Kafka’s letter, focussing on a young man grappling with his appearance, sexuality, relationships and identity. All in all, he is trying to reconcile that he is not his father’s son.
Written and directed by Flaming Carnations Co-Artistic Director Matt Bapty, ‘A Simple Little Knot’ was beautifully created. Bapty has pleasantly interwoven many theatrical themes into this play, making it an intriguing night for all to attend. Assisted by Dramaturg and Associate Director Tristan Nemi, it is clear that much work has gone into the detailed script, intensely describing every move and motive.
Technical aspects of this production were simple and plain: basic lamp lighting was used throughout the production without any audio elements. Set in Studio 1, a black box theatre, the production used simple objects such as chairs, lamps, tables and rubbish thrown across the stage.
This one-person play was led by the wonderful actor, Fen Carter. Carter drew the audience in for the full hour, never breaking the tension. A stunning technique in this production was utilising a pair of glasses to represent the father. Throughout the play, Carter placed the glasses on audience members, bringing human connection.
Carter is a brilliant actor displaying the harrowing emotions of the writer. It can be hard to project to the back of an extremely large black box theatre whilst constantly conveying the right emotion. To elevate this performance further, it would be wonderful to see Carter project slightly more, to ensure every word is heard by the audience. However, this may be rectified as the season carries on and the production team gets used to the large space.
Overall, ‘A Simple Little Knot’ is a fantastic new production by an even better new theatre company. It brings to light a distressing story from 1919 that is still relevant today. Queer theatre is reemerging across the nation after years of being hidden or classed as “too new age” to produce. As a queer theatre creator, I commend the Flaming Carnations (and many other theatre companies at Brisbane Fringe) for bringing our stories to life.
‘A Simple Little Knot’ performed until Sunday, 23 October 2022 For more information about this emerging company, visit their website.