Fringe review: Where to From Here

The art of storytelling depends on two things that Tracy Crisp has nailed: entertainment and believability. ★★★★

Mar 06, 2023, updated Mar 06, 2023
Everything about Tracy Crisp offers an invitation to listen. Photo: Maggie McGinty

Everything about Tracy Crisp offers an invitation to listen. Photo: Maggie McGinty

A middle-aged woman, quietly chastising herself for failing to book a carry-on ticket for her rail journey, is stuck in transit. To give herself a break, she goes to the cafeteria for a pot of tea and croissant. The table is set for two, though one chair is empty, the teacup untouched.

It could have been set for the people the woman tells us about over the 50 minutes she has our attention, but I think it’s for us, because everything about Tracy Crisp – including the table with the empty seat – is an invitation to listen.

In Where to From Here, Crisp delves into memory, but it’s not to reckon with the past or glean some kind of truth. It’s to look at the crossroads, at what could have been, and pick them apart with great patience and humour and come to a conclusion that’s something akin to that adage, wherever you go, there you are.

Cleverly, the people she meets are alternate versions of herself, like the lawyer for a B-list celebrity – “who I could’ve been if I’d listened to my mother”.

Although the train station is situated in another dimension, Crisp sensibly focuses on the regular, the routine, the washing machine’s symphony of beeps and the benefits of colonoscopy. Hindsight and vision don’t battle it out; they come together in a very original yet seemingly obvious way.

Like her debut Fringe show Pearls back in 2018, Where to From Here is the first of a proposed new trilogy. Crisp’s previous trilogy, You Can’t Hide in the Desert, comprised Pearls, The Forgettory and I Made an Adult – all of which debuted at consecutive Fringe festivals; grounded in grief, yet never sentimental in an overdrawn melancholic way, it used humour as a touchstone.

In this show, directed by past collaborator Maggie McGinty, Crisp has significantly upped the comedic ante, moving from touchstone to cornerstone, and there is a subtle emphasis on grief.

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As in her previous performances, she occasionally stands but spends a lot of time sitting. She’s never invasive. Her comedy is not bodily; she doesn’t act anything out. She doesn’t even laugh or smile at her own jokes. In Crisp’s own put-together and soothing style, she simply delivers. She’s a storyteller, first and foremost. Her style embraces recognisability, and it’s awfully affective.

With Where to From Here, Crisp is clearly building her audience in showing them something new while maintaining the persona she’s consistently brought to the stage. She’s like a dear, old friend whose modest growth is a pleasant surprise, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Where to From Here  is at Goodwood Theatre and Studios – Studio 166 until March 12.

Read more 2023 Adelaide Fringe stories and reviews on InReview here.

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