186,000 – MKA Theatre of New Writing

06-17 Dec at The Richmond Theatrette, Church St, Richmond

With & By Kerith Manderson-Galvin

also with

Performer
SHAMITA SIVABALAN

Performer
TRELAWNEY EDGAR

Performer
HARVEY ZIELINSKI

About

These are queer times, and when haven’t they been? Invisibility, erasure, hollywood stars, child welfare, 500mg’d, memory foam pillows, and an airplane to New York City all take place in the blink of an eye. MKA’s queer-femme theatre maker Kerith Manderson-Galvin, and a dynamic and fiercely talented team of performers of diverse sexualities and genders, follow the calculations of astronomer Olaus Roemer, to find the liminal space/hotel/desert of the real, where even the sand is itself, queer. MKA’s 186,000 takes Roemer’s calculation of the speed of light (in miles per second), and asks what we miss before it gets to us. Not that anyone measures anything in Miles anymore anyway, unless you’re hurtling down a highway in a red corvette in a Sam Shepard film. Memories, stories and mathematics are all on show, and it’s totally unsettling. As academic J. Jack Halberstam, says “To tell a ghost story means being willing to be haunted.”

Review:

MKA’s 186,000 is easy to review. Kerith Manderson-Galvin just like MKA as a company have produced a progressive, relevant don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss a bunch of shooting stars work. When witnessing this authentic piece of theatrical mastery you invest into the spirit of the piece which left me in a haze of euphoria I didn’t want to exit from. Strongly performance art by nature 186,000 has verbatim text delivered via performers, soundscape and Youtube which struck more than one personal chord, due to the honesty the verbatim text and imagery delivers. Tapping into the social relevance, climate and voice of the queer community this is theatre that will move mountains in you. It is impossible not to engage with the authentic spirit that floats on the ceiling as it oozes out of Kerith and her stunning ensemble. Normalisation of queer people and culture is quickly on the rise (not fast enough as far as I’m concerned) but watching this valuable production filled me with hope that the once voiceless many are making themselves heard. It made me prouder than I already am to be a part of this rich, beautiful vibrant LGBTQI community.

186,000 is a rich exploration that is dream like in style, production value and scenery. Filled with considered movement and choreography that holds the human condition with vulnerability, joy, and strength of expression that plays out truthfully and gloriously. It is such a personal message which made it feel mine too. This show is FRESH like a frozen box of tic-tacs.

Go, for god’s sake go.

 

MOTHER CLAP’S MOLLY HOUSE

New Theatre in association with Mardi Gras Festival
11th Feb-7th March
Director: Louise Fisher

Starring:
Debra Bryan, Bradley Bulger, Stephanie Begg, Steve Corner, Andrew Grogan, Michael Harrs, Patrick Howard, Deborah Jones, Chantel Leseberg, Tess Marshall, Brendan Miles, Thomas Pidd, Garth Saville, Dave Todd

Synopsis: It’s London, 1726 and Mrs Tull is struggling to save her frock-hire business. She hits on a plan to open a molly house – a brothel where the ‘girls’ are boys in frocks and the beer flows – and soon business is booming!

Meanwhile, in a trendy 21st century Bloomsbury loft, a gay relationship is disintegrating amidst the drugs and toys of a sex party.

Review: When it comes to reviewing during Mardi Gras season I tend to be hesitant to attend shows that have the word ‘Cock’ in the title or are driven by a massive urge to promote dildo sexual activity. Because, quite frankly, I’m sick of hearing about it, and I believe the gay community is so much more than that. Mardi Gras festival is increasingly out-dated and substantially out of touch. The parade seems to me reflections of yesterday’s achievements, and full of straight people playing gay dress up. As a member of the community myself, I’m bored. Dead bored.

I attended New Theatres production after being pleasantly surprised by Darlinghurst Theatre companies touchingly relevant production of ‘Gaybies’ with the hope perhaps there was something fresh to be said also at the New. But with great disappointment I was offered no such breath of fresh air. What was given was a very dated, crass-comedy full of grossly stereotypical done-to-death characters and circumstances.

Director Louise Fisher was hugely ambitious producing this show in a lengthy 2 hour 20 minutes (2 hours 40 if you include interval) copyright restrictions perhaps or not this show needs serious textual slicing. This production could have been done in half the time and would have been better for it. The set though clean and simplistic was very rarely used to its full potential and when in use was dated along with the storyline, which was a confusing blurred parallel between the past and apparently the 21st century?? I felt very unclear on what net of vision Fisher was trying to cast. It was odd.

Giving credit where it’s due there was no lack of vocal talent amongst the large cast, who sung well together and they certainly had guts and drive through out the show. That being said there was sadly very little else going on but skin deep characterisations with several actors showing extreme self-consciousness that was painful to witness. Their emotional choices were thin and unexplored. Characters were dipping in and out of weird internal challenges that were sudden at times with little explanation. The messages that I could faintly make out within the chaos of the story that tried to promote anything remotely forward thinking, was again barely tangible or receptive through all the yester-year tripe.

To be fair, it is a matter of taste. If tasteless pantomime banter is your flavour, then you’ll probably love it.

All in all I couldn’t have been more let down, or more disinterested. The play is an archive from history and that’s where it should stay.

Photo credits: Bob Seary