Everything about A Red Square is different. You’re asked to fill in a Google Form and submit your photo. You’ll need to download a three-part PowerPoint presentation from a designated Google Drive. It sounds suspiciously like a day at the office, but that couldn’t be further away from the truth.
Death by PowerPoint has a whole new meaning.
In addition to being one of the most original fringe shows for a while, A Red Square is also the mother of all PowerPoint presentations at 639 megabytes and a whopping 4966 slides. Somebody must have had too much time in their hands during lockdown. The finger points at Pony Cam, an experimental collective of six Australian theatre makers. They are known for subverting well-known forms, activating unexpected spaces and inviting audiences into their work in unexpected ways. They want to create moments where audiences are challenged to question their assumptions and laugh at themselves.
Back to the PowerPoint. I open act one and start clicking. A red square meets another red square, they fall in love and adopt a little red square. Life is great. Then a terrible tragedy befalls the little red square and things get very dark. Nightmares and suicidal thoughts ensue. The red square breaks out of the PowerPoint and goes on a rampage around Google, RedTube and various other websites. Then the story gets even stranger. Luckily, I have to leave it at that not to spoil too much. Let’s just say that Liam Neeson is involved.
Paying to watch a few red squares move around the screen is madness, you may say. Yes, it is – and I loved every minute of it. If you loathe South Park, this may not be your thing, as the story contains graphic imagery, pornographic scenes, violence, death, blood, murder, guns, suicide, drug use and every other trick in the book. The only difference is that the characters are red squares. But what an amazing range of emotions these simple squares express! They love, kill, have sex, cry, despair, obsess and conspire. You catch yourself developing feelings for a red square. How did that happen?
Using a PowerPoint presentation is a stroke of genius. It gives the viewer full agency to control the narrative. Each click takes the red square closer to its fate – or not, if you stop or go backwards. Using basic shapes and stop motion combined with South Park mentality makes A Red Square a twisted love song for minimalism. There are more meta layers in the story that you care to think about, but you can just as well enjoy the story and not think too deeply about what it all means. Any way you watch it, it’s hip to be square! By the end you’ll agree with me: death by PowerPoint has a whole new meaning.