Behold! The Wheel of Chance! The fanciest roulette this side of Burswood, brought to you by Gavin Nicklette – WAAPA alumni, life-long performer – all gold and glitter, cat ears and enormous eye lashes.
The setting is spartan: a microphone, a keyboard, the aforementioned wheel. But that’s all that is needed as Nicklette fills the space with everything else with a bubbly, magnetic energy that ensures all eyes are on him as he relates his life. Utterly confident around the keys, and a smooth yet powerful voice with the songs. Even in the transitions, his excitement radiates from the stage in waves.
As for the set-list, just as random as roulette itself. Tonight bounced across mostly dark melancholy topics, yet also included playfulness and a sparkly choose your own adventure option. Every performance will be different as each time a category is spun, it is replaced on the wheel immediately.
Often these type of shows start out seeming near chaos, but then loop back to a similar set list most times. Not this one, as Nicklette was adding even more songs the closer he got to FRINGE WORLD. He states (and we believe him) that there are 34 million possible permutations of the show.
The stories he told tonight are of long lost friends, growing up in Hedland, inappropriate saxophone improvisations, playing music of problematic artists and the ethics thereof. Nicklette lives these with each retelling, and the easy connection between performer and audience is palpable, especially as the show progresses.
The overall feeling is akin to the luck of discovering a new blues or jazz club where the performer is simply jamming, or perhaps a theatre rehearsal off-Broadway, at the very nexus of inspiration and creation. Each musical arrangement is deconstructed to the atomic level and reconstituted, deliciously.
This evening’s spins landed on random, unexpected fun. Waltzing Matilda as a show tune? Sure, of course, obviously. Or, as overheard and summarised by an audience member, ‘the most fringe show in a long time’.