That One Time I Joined the Illuminati

That One Time I Joined the Illuminati
Created & performed by Lou Walls. Music by Lou Walls & James Gales. Melbourne Fringe Festival – Digital Fringe. 13 – 17 October 2021

If you’re making a digital show to go into an online festival, you might as well go all the way.  This show does that.  It’s only award-winning Lou Walls’ second foray into digital theatre – and it’s slick, accomplished, fast and crazy.  There are original songs of course, as we’d expect from a composer/songwriter.  There is much complicated explanation and exposition delivered at head-spinning speed.  Maybe too head-spinning.  Who could take it all in?  We can’t and neither can Walls. 

And the mind-boggling, dizzying, weird and wonderful digital effects are not just for the hell of it, or gimmicky.  Apart from being just about perfectly realised, the digital effects are completely in keeping with the subject matter, which is the five and a half months attempt to find - and join - The Illuminati. 

In the second lockdown, while others watched too much mediocre television, or just stewed in their own juice, Walls, bored and lonely, went down rabbit hole after rabbit hole, searching, searching.  Did Walls find the Illuminati?  Do the Illuminati even exist?  Is there really a plan for world domination?  If there is and you could join, that would be really cool.  Walls thought it would be fun and funny to find out – but it turned into an obsession.  Which is, as it turns out, mind-boggling, dizzying, weird and wonderful.

The on-screen image of Lou Walls frequently splits or divides and becomes two… or three… or five images of Lou Walls because that’s what it felt like.  Walls joined eight Facebook pages, but those turn out to be just more rabbit holes.  Dead ends.  Are they reptiles?  Is a triangle their sacred symbol?  Wait, that’s sort of the Freemasons’ symbol.  Are they the way in?  So, let’s go to the Freemasons’ buildings and try to break in.  No luck there.  Eventually, a breakthrough – of sorts.  Lou Walls contacts a woman called Debbie, who appears to live in Milwaukee.  Debbie ain’t too literate.  She asks for trust.  She asks for money.  (Walls sends it.  Uh-oh.)  Debbie tries to hook up Walls with a US serviceman with a view to marriage…  Walls has to let Debbie know that is not their thing.  But they keep talking (electronically) for days and days – and when Debbie turns out to be a fake and a scam, Walls misses her.  They’d become pals.  

Walls make us believe it.  Under the craziness and the comedy, there’s a poignancy too – but that’s a phenomenon that maybe could only happen in a lockdown when what’s online becomes more real than, well, what’s real.

The festival program gives no camera, editing or special FX credits for this show.  It should because all these aspects are top class.  That One Time I Joined the Illuminati is fast, inventive, sneakily profound, funny, and sad too - a knockout.  The best show I saw in this 2021 Digital Festival.

Michael Brindley

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