Wednesday, 2 March 2022
Adelaide Fringe
Celebrating the power of the brain

Dr Gill Hicks more than anyone understands the power of the brain.

It is therefore not surprising the 2021 Adelaide Fringe Award winner makes a powerful return to the 2022 Fringe leading a team of neurologists, musicians, visual artists and wellbeing experts to take us on a 45 minute magical ride through a most fascinating part of the brain – the Hippocampus.

The human brain is the most powerful part of us that makes us well, human, yet it is also in some ways the least known part of us.

With much discussion in recent years on the close correlation between the rise of the digital world and a slow down in our cognitive function, it was refreshing to attend Music Art Discussion’s fascinating celebration of the brain Hippocampus.

For quick background, the hippocampus is actually the part of the brain that continues to grow and develop – neurogenesis. So yes we truly can regenerate our brains. Just like Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz it is possible to get a new brain.

At the beginning of the show, Hicks recounts how she became fascinated by the power of the brain. When her physiotherapist advised her that in fact it is 92% of the brain that controls walking as was undergoing her rehabilitation after the London bombings. Who knew?

The creative driving force behind the show, Hicks has collaborated with cognitive neuroscientist Dr Fiona Kerr and wellbeing educator Annie Harvey to offer us all an insight in the complexity and utter brilliance that is the human mind.

But this is definitely no dull scientific lecture – entertainment is key here. You can’t help but engage with the Julian Ferraretto’s beautiful music especially composed for the show. There are even moments where you are actively encouraged to clap along and become part of the rhythm making.

The story and music is further enhanced by digital artist Max Brading and visual artist Mike Worsman who have cleverly combined to create a powerful imagery, encouraging you ponder on the various messages and imagery that flash up on the screens.

The Lab was the perfect venue for this richly layered immersive experience of sound, music and light. It is very much a thinking show, as you would expect for a production that offers an insight in just how brilliant this organ is.

From the outset, as you sit on the pink exercise balls that doubles for seating you know that this is no ordinary show. It doesn’t take long as you bounced up and down on the balls waiting for the show to start for your inner child to emerge. It also enabled chair dancing at its finest as Ferraretto’s music takes effect. There was no fear of breaking the COVID rules here.

At the end of the day Hippocampus is very much a thinking show and as you leave the theatre you do feel enlightened, reflecting not only on how important but just how amazing the old brain is. It is the very essence of life itself.

Having virtually sold out during its very short Fringe season I hope that Hicks and Music Art Discussion look to stage Hippocampus again into the future and kick start more discussions into the power of the brain.

Fontella Koleff

Hippocampus, Adelaide Fringe.
Season closed.

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