‘Bonanza’is an ordinary tale told in an extraordinary way. Not really theatre in any conventional sense but five screens from which various perspectives are heard and different views can be observed, all topped by a scaled model of the town Bonanza itself. Opening with the screens flickering into action as a thrusting guitar soundtrack drives the piece into motion we are off on a journey of never ending freeways and vast stretched out plains.

 Once a thriving mining town with constant new arrivals-some temporary, others permanent- Bonanza now houses only seven permanent residents. A sense of isolation, loneliness and withdrawal hangs over the town but this is complemented by a sense of peace and a life removed from the stresses and strains of the outside world. In fact Bonanza feels as if it is cocooned within its own time capsule.

 Not much ever happens in Bonanza so the most recent bit of excitement to hit the town was an escaped couple- constantly referred to as ‘Bonnie and Clyde’- who drove through the town at high speed attempting a reckless escape along the aptly named Graveyard Road. The tale is recounted by three different residents with unbridled enthusiasm and awe as if it is the most exciting thing to ever happen anywhere, ever. To them you get the feeling that it probably is.

 This however does not mean it is without its own troubles even if there are only seven full time residents. The city council is largely made up of people who use the town as a retreat and holiday resort- a different kind of getaway from the Bonnie and Clyde couple- and this has caused rifts and even restraining orders. During the making of this documentary the town was in legal battles with itself and if things went a certain way it may even have faced bankruptcy.

  By showing the unfolding tale on five separate screens a sense of the vast expanse of the town can be derived and on occasion it feels as if you can see the whole area in five different snap shots. The space and feel of the town is highlighted by Peter van Laerhoven’s soundtrack which adds even further dimension and desolation whilst the flickering light on the town model adds a sense of eeriness to make the whole experience. Quite captivating and definitely an original exercise works without feeling as if it is trying too hard.


Bonanza is on at Summerhall in the Main Hall at 4.30pm until August 26th

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