Review: The Giant Worm Show (Melita Rowston’s Shit Tourism)

melitaVenue: The Old 505 Theatre (Newtown NSW), Sep 6 – 10, 2016
Playwright: Melita Rowston
Director: Melita Rowston
Cast: Benito Di Fonzo, Melita Rowston

Theatre review
Melita Rowston remembers a giant pink worm she had once seen in a parade, and goes on a wild goose chase to recover memories from her childhood. In the process, nostalgic tales of a small country town are brought to light, along with quirky personalities who steal our hearts, through strange anecdotes that are as surprising as they are moving. Rowston’s production is a charming one, unabashedly sweet but also revelatory in its portrayal of country people, their challenges, and their passions.

Presented in the form of a parody of a faux children’s tv programme from Saturday nights of a bygone era, Rowston is joined on stage by 2 puppets, confidently operated by Benito Di Fonzo. It is a basic and completely unpretentious setup, but its humour is effective, with a palpable quality of sincerity that is key to The Giant Worm Show‘s poignancy. There is an unmistakable melancholy that comes with Rowston’s regard for a time and place she had left behind, inconspicuous but powerfully resonant for city folk with tendencies of romanticising rural life.

When the going gets rough, we hark back to days of innocence, longing for the peaceful and secure existence of infants; wrapped up in cotton wool, merry and oblivious to all troubles of the world. Life is never perfect, but we often access the past through a kind of psychological filter that only allows the best to return. The pleasure of nostalgia is delusive, but also necessary. We need to know the sensation of peace and optimism in order to forge ahead, in search of an ideal future, informed by imagined pasts.