Oh No! Satan Stole My Pineal Gland! – almost certainly the best title in this year’s Fringe Festival – is a ridiculous yet rigorous work that demonstrates the wonderful agility of fringe theatre in Melbourne. After nearly twenty years in its North Melbourne hub, the Fringe has moved homes to the newly renovated Trades Hall, and its programming in the venue is particularly exciting this year. With limited lighting options, a strict fifty-minute performance time, and only half an hour to transition between shows, the Fringe forces productions to cut the fat and tighten works. Oh No! Satan Stole My Pineal Gland! is a terrific example of the production quality that can thrive under these conditions.
We enter to an AstroTurf cyclorama, where Natesha Somasundaram is trying her best to make friends with passing fellow Satanists. Turtle-necked and flat-shoed, the cult is dressed in pink and red. ‘Hail Satan!’ she cries. ‘Hail Satan,’ they breeze back before jogging away. When this greeting fails to elicit further conversation, Somasundaram tries to engage a cultist in a conversation about the television show Gilmore Girls. There’s an episode, she says, that ends with a long shot of Lorelai and Rory just sitting together, in profound, companiable silence. A squeamish pause follows. ‘Well,’ the cultist says, ‘I don’t think I’ve seen that episode.’