Review: Alpha (Old Fitzroy Theatre)

oldfitzVenue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Feb 9 – 20, 2016
Created and performed by: Tamara Natt, Sebastian Robinson
Director: Sebastian Robinson

Theatre review
Tamara Natt and Sebastian Robinson meet in Alpha, a juncture at which poetry and physical theatre are combined to explore two queer identities and their place in the world. Along with the electric guitar and vocal accompaniment of Milla O’Sullivan, rhymes and rhythm are the key currency of the piece. Natt and Robinson’s bodies and voices fill the stage to connect with dormant sensibilities of the audience, making us look and hear with parts of our selves seldom employed, to discover the alternatives of our parochial existence, and to look beyond the fences we erect.

Natt and Robinson alternate between vulnerable and defensive in what they choose to present. We are drawn in and pushed away, as the piece fluctuates between impenetrability and its desire to excite. Gender and sexuality are often brought into discussion, with the subversion of female/male and gay/straight binaries taking centre stage. It offers new things as well as concepts that might be described as derivative, but it comes as no surprise that tried and tested elements should feel more effective. Like any work that rejects narrative, Alpha can be challenging to the more logical inclinations of our minds, but both performers are charismatic and spirited, with a tenacious grit that keeps us seduced.

We are not used to shows of this type, because we only allow poetry to be a cursory presence in our lives. We can make sense of it, but we prefer meanings pre-packaged and ready-made for our cultural consumption. We want to remain idle in audienceship, and leave creativity to the artists, but this distinction can be disrupted when artists find courage to prioritise their authenticity over the need to accommodate conventions. In Alpha, investment of the self is required for any significant interpretation to occur, and it is the installation of a universal I as first person that gives it purpose.