REVIEW: #txtshow (on the internet) - Melbourne Fringe

2020 is the year of Zoom, boxed people on your laptop screen, sometimes trying to talk all at once. Meetings and meet-ups. Lectures and lessons. And because Zoom has become so ubiquitous, it’s also being used more and more creatively. Riot Stage used it to chat to us and stream their short film. Brian Feldman is using it to create his show, day after day.

Audience members are welcomed to Zoom and the show, and asked to keep their cameras and their microphones on but to change their onscreen name to “anonymous”. We are to wait until the character of “txt” appears and then we have to start typing.

You see “txt” (performed by Brian Feldman) will perform whatever we type into the chat box. No one knows who is typing what and Brian doesn’t know what he’ll be saying until the text appears in the chat. It’s the quickest I’ve ever seen anything I’ve written be performed for an audience.

Zoom has been used all year for work and for collaborations. #txtshow is an evolution of that – perhaps not an obvious one, but one that seems to be wholly fitting. Like an impro show where the prompts are full lines of dialogue instead of a colour or a name or a city.

There were only four audience members in the show I attended. We were a bit hesitant at first, not knowing what to write. We started tentatively with questions, but as he asked them, we could not answer. Everything we typed, he said. Sometimes with pregnant pauses. Sometimes in a flurry of words, stream of consciousness, as we each added to the show moment upon moment.

Feldman responds in an instant, giving sharp readings, while trying to blend the disparate offerings. Some of us tried to take elements and shape a story, others wanted a more physical response. It’s eclectic and strange and heaps of fun.

Brian is wrapping up a 12-city, 4-country, 64-show international virtual tour – streaming from his home in Washington DC to festivals in Australia, the US, the UK and New Zealand.

#txtshow (on the internet) is on Zoom as part of Melbourne Fringe until Sun 29th.