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.

Past Production, Review

REVIEW | SITU-8: CITY | Nostalgia and revival combine

Review | Laura Money

Picture this: the sun is setting and you’re lining up outside your favourite theatre to see a movie. You can smell the popcorn, feel the excitement rise as you mount the stairs and hear the music drifting above your head. But something is wrong – the candy bar lies empty and cold, the stairs creak underfoot and the music is a creepy remnant of an abandoned theatre’s last ditch attempt to revive: Mr Demille, The Liberty Theatre is ready for its close-up. STRUT Dance and TURA are no strangers to site-specific works. They are both masters of utilising spaces in ways others wouldn’t dream of. In yet another year of SITU-8, this iteration CITY sees STRUT revamp the old Liberty Theatre – a gold rush era building that twists and turns with surprises and stories. After laying abandoned for 25 years, SITU-8: CITY inhabits every corner of this beautiful home of cinema. It’s a visceral plunge into a bygone era that explores body horror and the avatars we project our inner selves onto up there on the silver screen. Enter a haunting vestige of times gone by and be entertained again by this invigoratingly new yet nostalgic show.

Entering through a laneway, almost keeping the secrets of this stunning building to ourselves for just one more look, the empty cinema room stands – a mere shadow of its glory days. Inside the vast hall, exposed beams bear witness to Demake/Demaster a physical performance that combines found footage from cinema history and special effects to create a weird hybrid of body and screen. Questioning what it means to be a body and what occurs when we capture those bodies on screen, the piece provides a literal feedback loop as our screen mediated society is scrutinised in a chicken and egg scenario. Above and behind the scenes is the old projector box. This time, it’s Antonio Rinaldi in The Melody Haunts My Reverie which sees Rinaldi lip sync to old sound grabs from films. Adjacent to the first piece, Rinaldi provides a camp, drag-like performance with mannerisms reminiscent of the divas – Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn. The sound bytes are haunting, like being in the middle of a dream and hearing the phone ring – it’s unnerving in the most delicious of ways. In between stage and projector comes La Dolente, a powerful spoken word and madrigal that explores notions of the female figure in fiction. What does the femme fatale say about cinema? Talitha Maslin explores the subtext of cinematic portrayals of women in an unflinching physical performance that sees the women up close and personal – weaving their truth throughout the audience, this time without the screen as a barrier. It’s a film studies class in the form of a feminist physical rending of heart and soul.

The set-up is clear: one big performance and then multiple vignette pieces to stumble upon once given free reign of The Liberty Theatre. This means that some things may not be seen but that’s just a great excuse to come back! There’s a futuristic piece reminiscent of Alien and Predator that thrusts you into the sci-fi genre and delves into the world of man and machine hybrids. The candy bar comes back to life as the figures of jaunty 1920s bathers peel themselves off the wall and move to a 1980s synthesised soundtrack that is jarringly whimsical and nostalgic, and all of these pieces combine to witness Mercury Bones which addresses identity and themes of intimacy, feelings which are usually evoked by cinematic experiences. SITU-8: CITY provides that delightful frisson between nostalgia and haunting. Every piece transports you to the world of film but digs deeper, exploring notions of celebrity, editing one’s persona, influence, and identity. It’s a pastiche of hyperreality, the transience of film, portrayals, and even just different eras and in that, SITU8: CITY sidesteps reality in the cocoon of The Liberty Theatre – as the world bustles around us on a busy city night, we escape together.

SITU-8: CITY played at The Liberty Theatre, Perth 1-11 November 2022. See what TURA and STRUT are doing in 2023.

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.

Review

REVIEW | You’re So Brave | Health and political upheaval explored

Review | Laura Money

You’re So Brave is writer/performer Georgi Ivers‘ memoir performance piece reflecting on her time as a Youth Ambassador to Hong Kong and how chronic pain and disease has affected her homecoming. Recounting her experiences from diagnosis to travel, and finding her place in the world, Ivers takes us on a nonlinear journey through her most intimate feelings. Accompanied by an intricate and clever set designed by Adelaide Harney, Ivers bends and shifts her memories into funny anecdotes and heartbreaking vignettes that reflect the huge feelings circulating a semi-broken body.

Bamboo themes permeate this work – from the silk and bamboo structure housing projections and providing a little intimacy for Georgi, (she reveals so much of herself it feels too formal to refer to her by surname) to the condition she suffers – bamboo spine. Georgi’s gentle nod to the condition that is always present through clever reminders is subtly and intelligently achieved. Vacillating between memory and motion, Georgi traces her personal history of pain and intertwines it with the political upheaval of her contemporaries in Hong Kong. As she struggled with her body attacking her, her counterparts struggled against authoritarian bodies. For Georgi, finding her feet meant finding the pole – enrolling in pole dancing classes, Georgi transcends the pain and moves elegantly and freely. Gifting the audience with a lesson in pole, Georgi’s life experiences culminate in the getting of wisdom – in acceptance and love of one’s flaws. She is every bit the fighter, which ironically makes her so brave.

Georgi Ivers gives a brave performance – she displays her bravery by exposing herself and baring her soul. It’s a delightful show that proves age is nothing compared to experience.

You’re So Brave is on at The Blue Room Theatre until 29th October 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.

Review

REVIEW | Homeward Bound | Exploring inner space and isolation

Review | Laura Money

Have you ever looked at migratory birds and wondered how they know how to do it – like really know how to fly halfway across the world and then get back home to the exact same spot? The notion of homing and drifting is explored alongside isolation and humanity in Isaac Diamond‘s Homeward Bound. Diamond takes his fascination for ‘the incredible intelligence of animals and the awesome absurdity of people’ and creates a show where these elements merge and assist each other in a symbiosis of thoughts. Deeply philosophical, at once human and primal, Homeward Bound is a moving work that examines the importance of community in human identity.

Featuring a strikingly simple set designed by James McMillan in collaboration with lighting designer Rhiannon Petersen, The Blue Room Theatre‘s Main Space is transformed into a space ship. Strips of light form a hull as they are activated representing energy surges and create a visual frame for the action. Petersen’s lighting works in concert with a pared back, futuristic soundscape by composer and sound designer Rachael Dease. When Diamond wakes up from deep sleep alone and must navigate his newfound isolation with very little hope of ever seeing Earth again, the lights pulse and throb around him. As he enters strange dream-like hallucinations where he reimagines his past a surreal soundtrack and weak lighting contribute to this disturbia. But Diamond isn’t really alone. Kylie Bywaters plays the personification of the ship’s computer and does so with an infectious cheerfulness and humanity not usually present in AI.

Diamond’s unravelling is perfection. He vacillates between upbeat and energetic to morose and paranoid. Each time he lapses into a past memory, it behaves like a lucid dream. Twisting and turning in slow motion, Diamond embodies the very birds he needs to channel in order to discover the secret to going home. These moments display his mental breakdown but also his only hope of rescue – morphing and changing in a body horror-stricken dance symbolising the next stage of human evolution. Diamond’s script proves that all human ingenuity has its roots in nature. We learn from animals and each time we use a technology derived from them (velcro for example) we strengthen the bond between us and the rest of the animal kingdom. In this case, the technology that allows for hibernation makes us closer to animals, and the computer technology that Bywaters represents pulls her closer to Diamond. Bywaters plays it factual and robotic, yet there is a warmth and humanity that shines through. Diamond’s Perry receives more kindness and love from her than his dream mother – which is a bold statement on what humans need for comfort.

Homeward Bound is a down to earth play about humanity and community. It may feel like this story is detached but dig a little deeper at its philosophies of interconnectedness and identity. With a strong team of brilliant theatre-makers behind it, this show hits home.

Homeward Bound is playing at The Blue Room Theatre until 22nd October 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.