After my interview with Director Zoe Pepper and performers Adriane Daff and Tim Watts, I still wasn’t entirely sure what The Irresistible was going to be about. All I knew was that it borrowed from film conventions, uses voice-changing microphones, and uses a lot of smoke. After seeing the show, I understand why the creatives were so reserved in giving away too much. It’s always hard to review a show without letting the cat out of the bag – so bear with me. All I can say is this: go and see The Irresistible, it is a truly remarkable play.
Jonathon Oxlade takes his cue from the script’s wonderful borrowing of filmic conventions in creating his set – an hermetically sealed plastic box that contains not only all the action, but the copious tendrils of smoke that weave their way through, at times obscuring the actor’s faces and bodies. Walking into the performance space at PICA, with the plastic screen rendered white from the smoke behind it, we feel the anticipation as keenly as though we are waiting for a movie to start.
As the lights dim, it is through this misty smoke that Daff and Watts’ modified voices come through the speakers as a pilot’s pre-flight announcement, complete with too many ‘aaahhs’ and it’s hilarious. This sets the tone for the work. Even though some serious and quite emotional things happen, there is a wonderful sense of irony and pisstake throughout the dialogue and delivery. They both wear khaki pants and turtlenecks – blank slates. Watts is brilliant as the passive-aggressive Eric – just a simple Ranger trying to mete out some justice in this world, and Daff strikes the balance between funny and creepy six-year-old perfectly.
The microphones are a wonderful toy to play with, but they allow for a lot of exploration and bucking of conventions that can be confronting at times. Daff playing both the stripper and the man/client seeing her is a bold and challenging move. She says pretty awful and demeaning things as the client, while sashaying and dancing provocatively in a glass box – staring straight out into the audience. This clever juxtaposition and deliberate pushing of the fourth wall is brought home as Daff doesn’t even attempt to conceal that it is her speaking.
The Irresistible explores issues of gender, familial relationships, identity, and our ability to ignore our subconscious. The central story of a woman who is in denial about an incident that occurred in her childhood, resonates on so many levels. April and her sister, Bridget both reacted differently – one in denial, the other in pain. April’s husband Eric reacts in anger, and young Cassie in fascination. The Irresistible takes these familiar reactions – ones that have been sold to us as tropes by movies and television for decades – and deconstructs them on a subconscious and psychological level. It strips down our feelings and presents them back to the audience with unapologetic, brutal honesty.
I know that The Irresistible still seems to be shrouded in mystery, but go see it and then you’ll realise why I couldn’t give the game away.
When: 14th – 24th June 2017 | 7:30pm
Where: PICA (Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts) | Northbridge
Info: Tickets $26 – $32 (Earlybird special $20) | Duration 75 minutes | Suitable 15+ | Smoke effects