on now, Review

REVIEW | D*ck Pics In The Garden Of Eden | Paradise lost, suburbia found

Review | Laura Money

It’s the oldest story in the book – according to some. Boy meets girl made from his rib. Girl becomes Boy’s personal sex toy. Girl is reprimanded when she begins to pleasure herself and is doomed to live a life of sexual repression while Boy gets to plaster images of his d*ck everywhere. You know, straight out of Genesis. The Last Great Hunt are back with their signature blend of surrealism, hyper-reality, screen mediated hilarity with a poignant thread throbbing underneath. D*ck Pics In The Garden Of Eden sees writer Jeffrey Jay Fowler in top form – biting satire, clever script, and an almost uncanny knack of parodying unpolished theatre and comedy. Every second is acted to perfection and the set, lighting, and sound design as flawless as the costumes. While that sounds like a rather basic review of everything, it’s only because you can’t embellish perfection. This show will have you craving eggplant and biting your lip in satisfaction.

Physical humour and puppetry is played up in the opening sequences and throughout to represent the Garden of Eden – the performers cavort in costumes made from everyday objects – stockings, foam, mattresses. Laughter is embedded into the very fabric of this show, as demonstrated by Maeli Cherel‘s exquisite costuming – Tyrone Earl Lrae Robinson hilariously pokes his head out of a Christmas Tree-esque Tree of Knowledge, complete with face cam, which is hilariously removed in one fell swoop after serving its plot-line purpose. Adam (David Vikman) and Eve (Arielle Gray) wear body stockings with

cartoonish whimsy, each carrying their hilariously oversimplified genitals in their hands. It’s a brilliant move – Fowler captures the playful nature in these naive and childlike characters – Vikman and Gray embody innocence with flawless comic timing. After the fall, we see Adam and Eve played by Ben Sutton and Jo Morris respectively although now they are middle aged and dealing with teenagers. Sutton’s ‘everyman’ schtick is nauseatingly real as the white, privileged literal king of the patriarchy – wheedling with Lilith for her to delete his infidelity-riddled private pics. Morris plays her repressed psychotic breakdown behind the eyes, captured by closeups and writ large behind her onscreen. Every move these characters make is scruitinised as it’s filmed from every angle and projected onto an image of suburbia that sways and almost dissipates as the cloth background wavers – perhaps suburban life isn’t as solid and perfect as we think it is.

Fowler provides a biting social commentary on sexual politics and the destigmatisation of sex. Adam and Eve’s son, Cain (Robinson) fittingly chosen as the slayer of Abel and all-round sinner is very open about his love of sex. He sends d*ck pics in class – setting off a sexual awakening in his substitute teacher which is a whole other thing, delights in pornography, and literally gets in bed with the devil. Robinson’s turn as the debaucherous Cain is inspired. His facial expressions and juxtaposition of hypermasculine posturing and chest muscles complete with He-Man wig, with a feminised wiggle of the hips brings a level of complexity to the character. Something Fowler always nails is multiple character casting – with a costume that represents each character, he explores different aspects and nuances of their personalities. Gray’s Lilith is cool and stand-offish, she expresses her pain in disdain for men and remains impassive when they scream outcries of emotion. When Iya Ware takes on Lilith there is a dynamism not present before – this Lilith channels her anger into creativity and is not afraid to shout in a passionate plea to men to do better. Embedded within the overarching themes of sexuality and oppression – which they manage to make hilarious as well as sad – there are a few references to badly performed comedy and theatre. With the majority of The Last Great Hunt cutting their teeth on the stand-up comedy scene it should come as no shock that they can write a pretty terrible tight five. Chris Isaacs will have you in absolute stitches with his badly written, stiltingly performed routine that manages to be derivative, sexist, homophobic, and a swathe of other insults at the same time. I know a certain 2010s Perth ‘comedian’ whose material about their name being ‘dick’ seemed to be the peak of their talents and seeing Isaacs absolutely nail the parody brings nothing but hilarity. The character turns out to be far more nuanced than his performance and it all comes back to repression. Joanna Tu rounds out the cast as Lulu, Adam and Eve’s rebellious daughter. She wants to act and auditions for Lilith’s one-woman show all about her treatment at the hands of Adam and her subsequent fall. Tu is perfect as she provides a satirical monologue reminiscent of student feminist theatre. Not that Fowler is discrediting either the emerging stand-up comic or youthful, exuberant theatre makers, but Tu’s impassioned monologuing gently ribs proving we all have to start somewhere but no-one said we weren’t allowed to cringe in the audience!

D*ck Pics In The Garden Of Eden is a bizarre and clever commentary on sexuality, and the roles we have created in society. Derived from the rich literary fodder that is Genesis, it explores themes that run deep in a heavily visible society – when d*ck pics sliding into your dms and eggplant emojis are standard and sexual violence normalised to the point of erasure. This is a very important show. It’s also a very funny show – leaning into the kitsch and exaggerating every move like a bad porno, even close-up shots are reminiscent of the genre, every single performer gets the money shot.

D*ck Pics In The Garden Of Eden is playing at Subiaco Arts Centre until 3rd December 2022. TICKETS

The Fourth Wall acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we engage in storytelling on – the Wadjhuk people of the Noongar nation. We pay respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to in 2022.

on now, Review

REVIEW | Oil by Ella Hickson | Love is an infinite resource

Review | Laura Money

Topical and richly layered, Oil by Ella Hickson is the final sweeping epic in Black Swan State Theatre Company‘s 2022 season, and it is a beacon of light in the Perth theatre scene. Ella Hickson writes boldly and with heart – Oil runs through as a theme at times subtly, and at others at the forefront of the piece. Hickson’s style is ambitious – she paints with big strokes and bright colours to create strong, sharp scenes. Hurtling through time from a family in Cornwall seeing an oil lamp for the first time through conflict and energy crises to the inevitable arrival of new technologies, Oil sees the many manifestations of May (Hayley Mcelhinney) exploring themes of love and loss, sustainability and identity. Expertly directed by Adam Mitchell and Scott McArdle (assistant director), who take the scope of the play and mould it around a stunningly impressive set, Oil by Ella Hickson is a pertinent show with relevant themes and a gutsy message of hope.

Zoe Atkinson‘s sets are always impressive but this time the bar has been raised. An impressive array of eras and places are deftly brought to life with her attention to detail. Beginning with a run down farmer’s cottage complete with woodblock and coming full circle with the modernisation of the same set – its starkness mirroring the characters’ despair. There is the richness of a turn of the century exotic homestead in Tehran full of opulent tessellating designs and Imperialism, and a simply stunning 70s British kitchen with appliances that light up. Each section is an insight into the people and their story must be told instantly – Atkinson provides every detail to give an instant precis of the characters and their situations. Hickson uses May as an anchor character – from new pregnancy in rural Cornwall to single mother in Persia and beyond, May and Amy appear as threads throughout the work – vestiges of the past that echo through time. Atkinson uses red to symbolise the essence of May – her scarlet dress evolving from Victorian modesty to 70s wraparound to 2000s girlboss suit. It’s a clever way to indicate that these characters have the same spirit whilst placing them firmly in the time and place that their segment requires.

There’s so much packed into this play – much like oil itself, a little bit can go a long way. Mcelhinney’s May is punchy and spirited throughout, yet there seems to be an insatiable desire that on occasion comes out. Her husband Joss (Michael Abercromby) poetically describes her as a woman walking, walking, and walking. He delivers a poem at every transition that encompasses the restlessness of May – Irish lilt perfect for the narrative. May’s story is our story. Every iteration of her sees her fascinated by the Pandora’s box that is oil and technology. Mcelhinney gives Cornwall May a husky tone that exposes her raw ambition – her desire to be more to want more than just living hand to mouth. A little charmed at first by American travelling salesman William Whitcomb – played with all the charm and sleaze required by Will Bastow, May comes across as a bit selfish and stuck up – she doesn’t embody the hard working lifestyle of her extended family. This changes when her pregnancy is revealed – why shouldn’t May want a better life for her baby? Subsequent iterations of May see her grow and thrive as a confident, strong woman – quite stubborn, yet always thinking of her daughter. Mcelhinney has brilliant comic timing – there are absolutely riotous scenes where she doesn’t batter an eyelid – delivering quips in a deadpan tone that proves her acting prowess. The final scene is an absurdist postmodern stripping back of theatre. Mcelhinney shouts like a character straight out of Samuel Beckett and gives cantankerous yet vague commentary from deep within her red parka.

On one level Oil is about oil, its initial, revolutionary properties, the political battles fought to control its sources, the physical skirmishes, and the misuse of it. The destruction oil has caused and the grand social impact it has had on every single life. But these commentaries are undercurrents in a family story that explores feminism and ways to be women. From Violette Ayad‘s portrayal of women of colour to Abbey Morgan growing and finally finding her autonomy as a single woman as Amy, the plight of women is explored from all angles. Ayad in Tehran is distrusted by the English, and jealously mistreated as she is seen as favoured by the young Amy. A later vignette sees the pair reunited as friends, however while Amy is merely playing at conflict, Aminah passionately explains that she doesn’t have a choice. The 70s sees the rift between May and Amy crack and divide – unable to be fully reconciled down the generations. Amy, a hippy riles up her mother, this time a big executive in a oil company. Their back and forth appears light at first, but Hickson is the master of the double meaning. Discussing ice-cream and boyfriends gets just as heated as large corporations and war. Mcelhinney gives a death stare like no other – May tells it straight and gives some damn good advice to boot. Morgan’s Amy physically distorts herself to get out her frustrations, lashing out violently but in the end, May doesn’t hold back and tells Amy that she has so much potential – don’t waste it on anyone else.

Oil by Ella Hickson is a brilliant work that takes something that should be at the forefront of our collective minds and keeps it steadily there – pulsing throughout every section. It’s scope is epic – Imperialist Iran, power crises UK, war-torn Syria and beyond with more than just these historical eras explored but their derivative genres as well. Hickson is a genius – each era references theatre styles that relate to it, something Mitchell’s direction embraces fully. From Chekhov-style struggles to Bernard-Shaw Imperialism, even kitchen sink dramas of the 70s and an Ender’s Game reference that brings it all back full circle, Oil by Ella Hickson is a show for theatre-lovers. It’s also completely its own thing, creating an entirely new way of presenting theatre whilst standing high on the platform of its predecessors – and if that’s not a metaphor for oil itself, then I don’t know what is.

Oil by Ella Hickson is on at The State Theatre Centre of WA until 27th November 2022. TICKETS

The Fourth Wall acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we engage in storytelling on – the Wadjhuk people of the Noongar nation. We pay respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to in 2022.

AWESOME FESTIVAL, Review

AWESOME FESTIVAL 2022 | We Live Here | 4 Stars

Review | Laura Money

We Live Here is a stripped back and beautiful homage to the people of Hummingbird House – a youth hospice that provides a comforting and warm home for families undergoing medical treatment. Presented by Flipside Circus and Circus WA, the show is a gorgeous representation of courage and love.

Featuring voiceovers and a thrumming soundtrack, We Live Here sees the physicality of Hummingbird House. From joyful play to the breakdown of time in a day, each sequence reflects the memoirs of its inhabitants – past and present. There is a stunning sequence where a mother outlines her day, physically holding up every other member to f the troupe with grace and strength. There’s laughter and pure goofiness in a touching date sequence and synchronised swimming.

Each vignette has a depth to it, the acrobatics are impressive but so is the story being told. We Live Here is a must-see this Awesome Festival.

We Live Here is on at STCWA until Friday 30th September 2022

The Fourth Wall acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we engage in storytelling on – the Wadjhuk people of the Noongar nation. We pay respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to in 2022.

AWESOME FESTIVAL, Review

AWESOME FESTIVAL 2022 | Creation Creation | 4.5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Windmill Theatre Company present the big questions – and some of the answers in the fun and chaotic Creation Creation. Dressed in lab jumpsuits, surrounded by various white cardboard objects the two crash test dummies set out to answer life’s burning questions. Voiceovers of community members provide the narration as they ask and answer the queries of people aged between 8 and 102!

It’s fun and genuinely hilarious. The topics tackled are big – how did the world begin? Where do babies come from? Can you lick your elbow? (We’re yet to answer the last question in the affirmative though not from lack of trying) Our intrepid testers are so funny together as they physically demonstrate how things work in a creative blend of physical theatre, puppetry, and props that would easily fit in on the set of Play School.

What’s refreshing about this show is it’s not a lecture – all the answers provided are from the same people asking questions. It’s great to see several options for how the earth got started instead of just a scientific explanation and then a Judeo-Christian perspective. The diversity and inclusive element to the show is heartwarming.

Creation Creation is the big show to see this Awesome Festival but it’s really just a small show with a big heart. You will leave with a smile on your face and so many conversation starters, this show will continue to entertain long after you’ve left the theatre.

Creation Creation is on at the STCWA until Saturday 1st October 2022

The Fourth Wall acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we engage in storytelling on – the Wadjhuk people of the Noongar nation. We pay respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to in 2022.

AWESOME FESTIVAL, Review

AWESOME FESTIVAL 2022 | Seashore | 3 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Seashore is an immersive experience for children under three to make believe and move to the natural rhythms of the seaside. Presented by Sally Chance Dance, the room is deftly transformed into a gentle beach through chalk lines and a rainmaker.

Children and their parents/carers move in harmony with one another to complete the immersion. Chance begins by encouraging each child to pick up a shell and listen to the whooshing ocean inside. Each gentle movement and lulling guitar recreates the playful nature and harmonious seascape.

Chance has thoughtfully integrated children’s curiosity with a guiding adult hand, encouraging intergenerational play, however it’s not as inclusive as it claims to be. This work was developed with and presented by the family groups on stage and whilst ticket holders are encouraged to get up on stage, in practice they are not interacted with sufficiently to foster a sense of inclusion.

Seashore speaks to those who enjoy gentle play and thriving imaginations. Go and enjoy – you won’t even get your feet wet.

The Fourth Wall acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we engage in storytelling on – the Wadjhuk people of the Noongar nation. We pay respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to in 2022.