Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: An Attempt to Lose Time, Miranda Prag, Adelaide Fringe 2024 ★★★★☆

A show that is at once a story of personal retreat, a history lesson spanning from the dinosaurs to the creation of industrial society, and a minor construction project, Miranda Prag’s show An Attempt to Lose Time is a bold and daring tale of one woman’s endeavour to find what kind of life exists outside twenty-four hour time.

Opening with a monologue detailing her constant snoozing of her morning alarm, her panicked cycle to work, her relentless slog in a corporate city job, and her post work yoga class where Zen eludes her in favour of an internal narrative of stress and anxiety, Prag’s motivation for losing time is quickly understood and easily related to. Life in the 21st century is busy and overwhelming and it never feels like there is quite enough time. Perhaps the issue is Prag and her chronic lateness, perhaps in dismissing her alarm she is sabotaging herself and her state of stress is no one else’s fault but her own.

However, judging by the sounds of laughter emitted by myself and the rest of the audience, this struggle is not Prag’s alone. Why is snoozing our alarm and sabotaging our day such common practice? Do we just love sleep? Are we adrenaline junkies? Or more sinister, are none of us excited enough by our lives to want to wake up and seize the day?

If the latter is true, it’s a grim indictment of where modern, capitalist society has left us. Stressed, worried, feeling like we’ve never got enough time, but then wasting the time we do have. So what’s the solution? Prag’s solution was to rid herself of all physical clocks,  sticky tape over all digital ones, and use the ironically well-timed global pandemic to steer her canal-boat out of London and live drifting in the waterways of Derby-shire; waking with the sun and eating when she saw the first moorhen on the water. It sounds idyllic, and it is through a calm and measured voice-over that this story of retreat is regaled to us.

On stage, it is a different and more chaotic Miranda Prag who appears. She lectures, deconstructs, and rebuilds a strange contraption made of copper pipes and bike wheels, and performs one slightly deranged song and dance routine. These Miranda’s seem to speak to the many voices and thoughts she found within herself during her escape from time. One is childlike and confused, looking fearfully at the audience, one seems like the female answer to David Attenborough, passionately describing the evolution of humanity, and one is a manic 80’s pop star serenading the Spring Equinox. These characters bring depth, energy and humour to Prag’s one-woman show, and keep us invested in her wacky philosophical experiment.

If one ever thought escaping time would be easy Prag’s journey shows that it’s not. She, herself, is surprised by how deeply ingrained is her 32 years of social conditioning to live by the clock. Where is the muscle memory of our ancestors who lived according to nature before technology? The most profound moments come when we see Prag succeed in losing time. When the head gasket blows on her engine, she panics about being stranded on a random canal way; the cost of fixing it, the time it will take. But then Prag realises that being stuck and lost is not a waste of time but the very reason we have time. It’s an important moment: a simple realisation that shows a rewiring in Prag’s conception of time. And perhaps explains why, on stage, Prag is engaged in a low-level feat of engineering. Most of us live passively according to structures set in place long ago. Prag’s play encourages us to examine the structures we live our life by, to dismantle them and see if we are capable of rebuilding them anew.

Strange, funny, and philosophical, An Attempt to Lose Time is a delightful show that explores human nature and the elusive, tyrannical, and wondrous force that is time.

Recommended Drink: A Sloe Gin Fizz Cocktail is the drink to accompany this play – pensive but with bubbles of chaos and madness.

Catch An Attempt to Lose Time until 25th of February. Tickets are available through the Adelaide Fringe Box Office.

Eilidh McKenzie

Eilidh is a writer, reader and avid watcher of film, television and theatre. She loves writing that blends comedy with darkness, and makes public the quirks of life and character that we've been taught to hide. She also aspires to be fluent in Spanish, but so far this has proved far harder than expected.

Festivals: Adelaide Fringe (2024)
Pronouns: She/Her