Review: Flood (Old 505 Theatre)

lamberthouseVenue: Old 505 Theatre @ 5 Eliza St (Newtown NSW), Nov 8 – 19, 2016
Playwright: Chris Isaacs
Director: Charles Sanders
Cast: Chandel Brandimarti, Caitlin Burley, Olivia Jubb, Aaron Lucas, David Thomas, Jackson Williams, James Wright
Image by Alexandra Nell

Theatre review
6 young adults, all white, embark on a road trip into the Western Australia bush land. A dramatic transgression occurs involving Aboriginality, and the story attempts to move itself into high gear, except no black person ever shows up on stage to provide balance to the ideas being explored.

Chris Isaacs’ Flood is a well-meaning work about race relations and colonisation, but is woefully oblivious to the fact that it is entirely concerned with the guilt and hurt of white people, when the tragedy at the centre of its narrative strikes only Aboriginal people. It is a shocking and deeply disappointing indiscretion that should no longer surface in public storytelling, but its existence is reflective of the ignorance and insensitivity that remains commonplace in Australian society.

It must be said however, that the production is carried out well. Design elements are simple but elegantly implemented, and direction by Charles Sanders tunes rhythms and emotion levels appropriately for the narrative to make sense. All performers present a good amount of proficiency with their roles, and the relationships they cultivate are subtly but effectively conveyed. The pain and struggle these white kids experience might bear authenticity, but their side of the story pales in significance, and is frankly, tedious to witness.

We can acknowledge and thank the First Nations all we want, for the use of their land at every social occasion, but when talking about their place in our historical and contemporary lives, we must no longer usurp space that is rightfully theirs. The failure to engage Aboriginal voices (the programme lists Indigenous content consultants but the text does not present Aboriginal voices), and then for the colonialists to exclusively occupy an Australian stage, when attempting to address issues of regret and reconciliation, is hardly acceptable. Flood is earnest navel-gazing, but in its frustrating and empty introspective search for answers, it has forgotten to ask those who matter most.

Review: Tiny Remarkable Bramble (Kings Cross Theatre)

impendingroomVenue: Kings Cross Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Nov 6 – 25, 2016
Playwright: Jessica Tuckwell
Director: Cathy Hunt
Cast: Thomas Campbell, Lucy Suze Taylor, Catherine Terracini, Contessa Treffone, Geraldine Viswanathan, Michael Whalley
Image by Clare Hawley

Theatre review
Joy is the emotion that manifests as protagonist in the 2015 Pixar film Inside Out, which explores emotions as separate entities in a human child. Jessica Tuckwell’s Tiny Remarkable Bramble can be seen to be similar in approach, with the quality of melancholy instead taking centre stage. The play is cryptic, and surreal in style, allowing the viewer a certain amount of freedom for the creation of meanings that could lead to personal interpretations that resonate with power, or could simply be an absurdist comedy that proves itself inconsequential, depending on the viewer’s tastes.

Smart, snappy dialogue is inventively formulated for the creation of six very quirky characters. There is considerable profundity in Tuckwell’s writing, in spite of a less than gripping plot line that leads us to a predictable end. Cathy Hunt’s direction of the piece is vibrant, playful and energetic in its thorough excavation of erudite gems, submerged in the densely fertile text. The show is fun-filled, featuring a group of actors that seem to be in a state of complete merriment, thrilled to be delivering ripples of laughter in a series of brilliantly humorous sequences.

Central figure Alice is played by Geraldine Viswanathan, appropriately apathetic for a sarcastic depiction of dispassionate and hopeless lethargy. Thomas Campbell steals the show as the belligerent Brigadier, fantastic in all his flamboyant flourishes, with a deeply charming presence that has us mesmerised and wanting more. Equally endearing is the memorable Contessa Treffone, desperately adorable as Pipkin, fragile and literally bubble-wrapped, representing a part of ourselves that can be too delicate and overprotected. The cast’s excellent chemistry and confident timing are the production’s strongest features, responsible for a night of theatre simultaneously challenging and entertaining.

Much of life involves wrestling with negativity. Personal insecurities, fear and despondency are constant threats that prevent the development of each of our own potentials. Many of us find it difficult to participate in society because pessimism is crippling, and always just a membrane away from stifling our creative energies. In privileged societies, we have everything that we could possibly need, but our materialism forms the basis of many constraints that we so frequently encounter. We think we have so much to lose, until we remember the transience of being, and start to appreciate the possibilities that can only come before death.

Review: The Angelica Complex (Kings Cross Theatre)

siren1Venue: Kings Cross Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Nov 5 – 27, 2016
Playwright: Sunny Grace
Director: Priscilla Jackman
Cast: Naomi Livingstone, Lucia May, Kym Vercoe
Image by Phil Erbacher

Theatre review
Angelica is under tremendous pressure, having recently given birth to her first baby. The responsibilities of caring for a newborn, and the accompanying social expectations of being a perfect mother, are more than she can bear. Sunny Grace’s The Angelica Complex is about a woman’s painful struggle to cope with the idea of perfection, derived from the prevalence of social media and unrealistic parenting advice. We witness Angelica trying hard to get things under control, but she thinks herself a failure, putting blame on herself, her baby, and society. The entire play has her working through a process of internalised guilt and anger, while ignoring the fact that her husband is almost completely omitted from the narrative.

Angelica blames herself for believing in the myth that “women can have it all” but strangely, and frustratingly, forgets to take the baby’s father to task. While he is out doing whatever that is more important than taking care of his family, absolving himself of paternal duties, Angelica absorbs everything at home, drowning under self-hate and paranoia. She spends her time resenting the yummy mummies on Instagram who make things look a breeze, but accepts her spouse’s abandonment.

Angelica is played by Kym Vercoe, an actor full of energy, magnetism and acuity. Under Priscilla Jackman’s direction, Vercoe delivers an astonishing performance rich with insight and emotion, giving us the opportunity to understand and to feel, what it is like to be in those circumstances. The show’s rhythms shift dynamically and beautifully through the duration, even though the character’s state of mind remains fairly static. Sophisticated video projections by Velinda Wardell are introduced judiciously to add texture, and to inspire our imaginations. It is an involving production that speaks carefully and clearly to its audience, although its arguments are not always poignant.

Angelica does not tell us why she had wanted to have a baby in the first place. It is of course, much too late for her to change her mind, now that she discovers that the truth of parenthood is too overwhelming to cope on her own. The Angelica Complex asks several questions but one of its most potent, is the often unexplained desire to bring new life to the universe. The root of Angelica’s problems may well be the misogynistic manner in which women are told how they should look and act, but the play’s inability to address a rational person’s need to give birth is symptomatic of how our society can take the issue too lightly. Whenever the answer is “just because” or “it’s always been this way”, an opportunity for radical investigation emerges.

Review: A Life In The Theatre (Darlinghurst Theatre Company)

darlotheatreVenue: Eternity Playhouse (Darlinghurst NSW), Nov 4 – Dec 4, 2016
Playwright: David Mamet
Director: Helen Dallimore
Cast: Akos Armont, Sunil Chandra, John Gaden

Theatre review
John and Robert work on a lot of plays together and have become more than familiar, but their closeness does not extend beyond the theatre. John is considerably younger, and although respectful of Robert, the generational gap that exists between the two is incontrovertible. The theatre that they practise is an ancient art form, passed down through the years from old to young, and in A Life In The Theatre, we are always conscious of John’s progression towards an inevitable taking over of Robert’s veteran position, in a perpetually reconstituting cycle of life and art, that tends to escape our daily consciousness despite its omnipresence.

David Mamet’s work of comedy is an acerbic yet deeply loving tribute to the people who make theatre, featuring fractured observations of the many absurd moments commonly experienced by those who work the stage, flattering and otherwise, but always meaningful on account of the honesty from which these vignettes are derived. All of human behaviour is funny from the right distance, and Mamet’s faux cynical attitude offers excellent opportunity for a great many laughs.

Director Helen Dallimore steers her production into madcap territory appropriate to the writing style, for a delightful and endearing portrayal of artists at work. The production’s rhythm suffers unfortunately, from frequent disruption due to its many sequences involving the cast going through costume changes on stage, causing energy levels to take a tumble at the end of every scene.

The actors however, provide detailed performances that insist on our attention at every step of the way. Both Akos Armont and John Gaden are resolutely present and thorough in their depiction of a profession fuelled by unbridled passion and ceaseless anxiety. Also noteworthy is Christopher Page’s lighting design, sensitively conceived and boldly executed, adding gloss and dynamism to an otherwise ordinary setting of backstage drabness.

Life is at its most real when the idiosyncrasies of individuals are able to be revealed. The quirky characters in A Life In The Theatre allow us to perceive the universality of our insecurities and irrationality, along with the benevolence and optimism that are fundamental to how we can make sense of existence. We may never come to a complete understanding of life or art, but it is the participation that counts for everything.

5 Questions with Nat Jobe and Clare Ellen O’Connor

Nat Jobe

Nat Jobe

Clare Ellen O’Connor: When did you first know you that you wanted to be a performer?
Nat Jobe: I think I’ve known ever since I was a kid. Growing up, we used to listen to a vinyl record of Phantom of the Opera on weekends and I was obsessed with it. We also used to watch the ridiculous tv comedy Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em which I was equally as obsessed with. Both were starring Michael Crawford. I just wanted to be him! I still want to be him! Can I be him?

Other than the stage, do you have a favourite/weird place where you like to sing? eg. the car, the bathroom, a rooftop?
I definitely love singing in my car. Loudly. Like, really loudly. Road trips are dangerous, they usually result in me needing to put myself on a few days of vocal rest.

If you could give one piece of advice to your 15 year old self what would it be?
I’d tell myself to always keep that positive, optimistic attitude because that outlook on life has always led me (and still continues to lead me) along the most amazing paths. I’d also tell myself to take of that mustard turtle-neck sweater and burn it, what was I thinking?

What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process for Summer Rain?
I loved working with our director/choreographer, Trent Kidd, on mine and Catty Hamilton’s big number “Watch The Puddles”. Trent has created a beautiful, timeless piece of musical theatre in that number and I am loving every moment of rehearsing it.

What is the biggest similarity and the biggest difference between you and your character in Summer Rain, Clarrie Nugent?
I guess our biggest similarity is that we are both cheeky larrikins; Clarrie is a very fun, optimistic and energetic guy and I really relate to that. Our biggest difference is probably that Clarrie is the town bookie and in charge of all gambling and betting within the town. I am definitely not a gambling man, I’m way too much of a tight-ass! Haha!

Clare O'Connor

Clare O’Connor

Nat Jobe: What’s your dream role in music theatre or on film?
Clare Ellen O’Connor: Oh gosh this is so hard! I love every character I get to play and I feel like there are so many unique things to find with each character. So to pick ONE… Maybe Tracey Turnblad! From the first moment I saw Hairspray I fell in love with that character. I’ve always had a special spot for her.

What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage in your career?
Easy! I was singing on a cruise ship singing and it was my moment where all of the other girls burst into a dance break and was I supposed to come pelting down the centre of the stage to hit my big note. Except I slipped over during my strut forward and hit the deck. Literally! Tried to pass it off as a sexy slide, but it wasn’t graceful enough! The audience let out a loud “Woooahhhh!” Ah well.

Do you have any interesting pre-show rituals?
Not really, I’m a bit of a keen bean. I come in super early and get my make up done so I have time to stuff it up and start again. I am hopeless at doing my stage make up! Then just warm up my voice and go through the show with my script and my notes so I know what I’m doing!

In Summer Rain, your character, Lorna, gives birth to a little girl. How do you tackle a big life moment like this in a show? And how are you going at connecting with the creepy baby doll you’re using in rehearsals?
I have gotten so attached to that little stand-in Trump baby (it has a mass of blonde hair and kind of pink skin)! Everyone else in the cast thinks it’s the creepiest thing ever but I think she’s just beautiful! I have never thought of myself as particularly maternal so I have been shocked at how comfortable this whole pregnancy/new mother thing has felt to me! Although I guess a plastic Trump Baby is different to the real thing, just a tad.

Also the ladies in the cast who have had children have been so great sharing their pregnancy stories and sharing wisdom! I have nailed the pregnancy walk thanks to those gals!

Summer Rain is a beautiful and poignant show with some amazing moments. What’s your favourite moment in the show?
My favourite moment is probably your “Dark Handsome Chappy” number! You and Catty are hilarious and Trent Kidd’s choreography is just perfect for it! I am lapping it up in rehearsals as much as I can because I’ll be offstage in that part when we’re doing it in the season!

I also really love the character development in this show. I feel they’re quite real and being Australian, they’re ones that we can all relate to. I feel Nick Enright has very much written this as a play with music.

Nat Jobe and Clare Ellen O’Connor are appearing in Summer Rain the musical.
Dates: 15 November – 19 December, 2016
Venue: New Theatre

Review: My Father’s Left Testicle (Mustard Seed Productions)

mustardseedVenue: The Depot Theatre (Marrickville NSW), Nov 2 – 12, 2016
Playwright: Murray Lambert
Director: Murray Lambert
Cast: Robert Carne, Matt Lausch, Emily McGowan, Nick O’Regan, Kristelle Zibara
Image by Clare Hawley

Theatre review
Australia may be far away from a lot of the world, but we cannot help but obsess over the idea that savages from places we know little about, are coming to overwhelm and steal everything we own. Of course, this is exactly what has been happening to Aboriginal peoples for two-and-a-half centuries, but these days, it seems the aggressors have somehow convinced themselves that the tables have turned, and foreigners are busy plotting to swamp this land illegitimately.

A substantial part of our daily political discourse involves the perceived threat of refugees, and how harshly our political leaders are willing to treat asylum seekers who dare brave our shores. Murray Lambert’s My Father’s Left Testicle talks about the offshore immigration detention centres that are constantly on the news, presenting absurd renditions of horrific stories reported over the last few years.

We may have heard it all before, but this is information that bears repeating. The atrocities never seem to cease, and even though our society is at a loss as to what can actually be done to alleviate the situation and achieve a humane result, we must not stop discussing these issues, repetitive as they might be, and risk forgetting the disaster occurring at our doorstep.

Lambert frames the stories within a context of very black comedy, some sequences of which are genuinely funny and others proving to be very uncomfortable viewing, although undeniably powerful. Often imaginative and passionate, the script includes clever dialogue that make up for where it lacks structural sophistication. The production suffers slightly from inelegant scene transitions, but charming work on set design by John Alan Sullivan is a highlight.

The work is performed confidently by a spirited ensemble of five. The meatiest roles are taken on by Nick O’Regan, who attacks with gusto and a sincerity that helps us connect with the play’s assertions. Also memorable is Robert Carne’s ability to convey authenticity, notwithstanding the production’s surreal and mischievous tone.

The show’s evocative title and its tagline “My Father’s Left Testicle… Go Back To Where You Came From!” suggests a desire to see a world without boundaries, where land is shared and where things that separate people are dissolved. The notion is idealistic, and naive, but it is not hard to recognise the truths that it contains. We might wish to preserve the inequalities of the world so that those at the top of food chains will remain dominant, but there is no need for our greed to exist without compassion. Even when we are determined to have more than others, it is clear that there is enough for everyone, but it seems that we can only think of things in terms of all or nothing, and will continue to wield cruelty where we can.

Review: A Flea In Her Ear (Sydney Theatre Company)

stcVenue: Sydney Opera House (Sydney NSW), Oct 31 – Dec 17, 2016
Playwright: Georges Feydeau (adaptation by Andrew Upton)
Director: Simon Phillips
Cast: Helen Christinson, Harriet Dyer, Leon Ford, Harry Greenwood, Sean O’Shea, Kelly Paterniti, Justin Smith, Tim Walter, David Woods
Images by Brett Boardman

Theatre review
Raymonde Chandebise has doubts of her husband’s fidelity, as Victor Emmanuel is suddenly unable to perform in bed (he blames a disappointing night at the theatre). Putting his devotion to the test, Raymonde sends a letter from an anonymous admirer requesting Victor Emmanuel meet for a tryst at a sleazy hotel, thereby initiating a series of humorous mishaps and high jinks in Georges Feydeau’s 1907 A Flea In Her Ear. The classic farce is relentless in its comedic endeavours, unafraid to traverse the most juvenile and absurd for a good laugh. There is little that can now be seen as refreshing in Feydeau’s play, but its complex construction of topsy-turvied identities, intentions and narratives is masterfully imagined. Andrew Upton’s adaptation is an energetic update, although surprisingly restrained with its bawdy material. Opportunity for more biting commentary on the nature of hypocrisy in our lives is relinquished, for a work that relishes in endless frivolity and mirth, brilliantly shaped to deliver laughter in its every line.

The production comes in a very particular style of presentation that feels deeply old-fashioned, but is, in the same breath, a genre of theatre that remains highly effective. Simon Phillips demonstrates his genius at directing an astonishingly specific and vigorous show, where each moment of stage time seems to be crowded with a host of precisely located nuance, along with sounds and gestures all meticulously configured to a tee. The performers are in perpetual dynamic motion, whether a twitch of the head or somersaulting across the floor, every movement is calculated to provide punctuation to jokes that may or may not be very good on their own. The show is a furious, heady tickling of the funny bone that demands its audience respond with laughter, and we often find ourselves obliging, dumbfounded by its power.

A very enthusiastic cast challenges us to meet their feverish folly with corresponding glee. An air of overwhelming silliness pervades the auditorium, and only the most seriously jaded could leave unscathed. Raymonde is played by Harriet Dyer, strikingly confident and natural in how she is able to turn all the ridiculous goings on to her advantage. With immaculate timing and an extraordinarily agile voice, she is a stand out in a sea of raucous talent, trouncing other players who come armed with bigger costumes and even bigger acting. Other memorable performers include Justin Smith and David Woods, both playing dual roles, chopping and changing between characters at lightning speed to show off their unfathomable theatrical athleticism, and comic versatility. Smith’s campy playfulness as Carlos and August, is especially charming and a clear highlight, of a production that helps us rediscover the magic that happens when our artists are allowed to exhibit the very best of their abilities. Sometimes, the menu may not wish to serve up anything of great originality or intellect, but its familiar, comforting offerings can prove a delightful sanctuary, and the kind of entertaining reprieve that we all inevitably, find ourselves needing.

5 Questions with Yannick Lawry and George Zhao

Yannick Lawry

Yannick Lawry

George Zhao: Sum up the character of Screwtape in 5 words or less.
Yannick Lawry: Mad, bad, dangerous to know…

CS Lewis doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to saying what he believes about the world. Playing the character of Screwtape, what is the most confronting thing you say in your personal opinion?
I think one idea Lewis presents is that we, as human beings, are not the ones in ultimate control or our circumstances. That’s massively confronting to many of us (me included!) One line that makes me think every time I utter it is when Screwtape talks about a ‘patient’ he recently captured by distracting him all the time and the patient’s words as he arrive in Screwtape’s kingdom are: “I now see that I spent most of my life doing neither what I ought nor what I liked”. A line that often comes into my head when I’m mindlessly flicking through the news feed on my phone..

You have about 75 mins of dialogue to learn for this show. How on earth did you manage that?
Um.. well, I don’t mind the sound of my own voice so I record each letter and listen to it back again and again until it sticks. Fortunately, Lewis’s train of thoughts and arguments follow nice, logical lines so they’re easy to map out and don’t take too long to sink in!

You’ve done a heap of theatre in London and Sydney but if you could replay any of your past performances which one would it be?
One of the first roles I played in London was Hamlet. He’s such an existentially-challenged brat; but I love the journey he goes on and the range he gives an actor to play in. Being in my late-30s, I probably need to get onto it quickly if I want to give him another shot!

It’s my round, what are you drinking?
If it’s cocktail hour and your budget will stretch to it, a Negroni. Otherwise a VB is just fine, thanks!

George Zhao

George Zhao

Yannick Lawry: Sum up your show, The Screwtape Letters, for us in 5 words or less!
George Zhao: Who’s pulling the strings, then?

What are the habits of a successful actor in your opinion?
Good question! In my humble opinion, they are:
– Knowing what success means to you personally and striving to achieve it.
– Constantly improving on your skill sets and on yourself.
– Allowing yourself time to rest .
– Most importantly, you need to genuinely love to those around you. I really can’t stress enough how much of an impact that has on people!

In The Screwtape Letters, you play a demon and the human “patient” – how do you separate out the two characters when playing them so close together?
I like to flow into the characters via physicality, once i move into the character a certain way, the voice, objectives and history of that character follow.

So, you recently filmed the second season of the awesome SBS series The Family Law – any gems from behind the scenes that you can share with us?
I’m actually still in the process of filming it while I write this! I’ve been incredibly blessed to work with all the people on this production, they are all incredibly loving and willing to help those around them without a second thought, and the catering is AMAZING! As the cast, we have this set of dances which are hilarious when we all do them together. I started a dance in front of the camera during a break in the scene last week, being silly and whatnot, and as I turned around i saw that the *entire* family were behind me doing the dance as well. I’m really hoping the camera was rolling, would be hilarious to watch that back!

You’re touring this show to Melbourne and Canberra after Sydney – where (and why!) are your favourite hangouts in those cities?
Can you believe, I’ve never ever been to Melbourne. So I’m open to suggestions! And the last time I was in Canberra was when I was a kid. So this tour will be significant for me in a whole bunch of ways.

Yannick Lawry and George Zhao will be appearing in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.
Dates: 22 Nov – 10 Dec, 2016
Venue: Seymour Centre

Review: Sweet Phoebe (Jackrabbit Theatre)

jackrabbitVenue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Nov 1 – 12, 2016
Playwright: Michael Gow
Director: Suzanne Pereira, Anthony Skuse
Cast: Charlotte Hazzard, Alastair Osment
Image by

Theatre review
There is something superficial about Fraser and Helen’s relationship in Sweet Phoebe. They spend most of their time talking about work, using it as a distraction from issues at home. When a friend’s dog comes to live, their life begins to unravel, revealing problems they had previously chosen not to acknowledge. Michael Gow writes about how we get caught up in unimportant things. Middle class existences in wealthy Australia are preoccupied with inconsequential and frivolous obsessions that allow deeper parts of ourselves be ignored, until they become urgent for attention, culminating in crisis points, leaving us crying for help.

As Helen, Charlotte Hazzard presents truthful emotions that give the pair’s small world a sense of volatile authenticity. Alastair Osment’s theatrical approach highlights the artificiality and showy shallowness of Fraser. Both actors bring to the piece, a fine balance of comedy and tragedy that is often entertaining and quite gripping. Directors Suzanne Pereira and Anthony Skuse ensure that dynamics between characters are explored with sensitivity and a resonant accuracy. A plot twist does however, turn the production slightly predictable and banal towards its end, causing its conclusion to arrive deflated.

The play contains sharp humour and pointed commentary on modern couples, asking questions about the nature of intimate relationships in today’s climate of rationality and independence. As traditional values and religious beliefs fade away, it becomes necessary to understand the evolution of our psyche as it pertains to these unions, if we are to learn how to keep marriages working. There is little evidence in Sweet Phoebe that the couple should remain together, aside from the practicalities of property co-ownership. Where signs of romance do emerge, they materialise in negative ways through jealousy and anger, and while they do engage in sexual intercourse, it seems that their connection is less than extraordinary.

It is hard to make a meaningful life, when we are surrounded by things that matter little, or when we forget that time is finite. We should not be foolish with what we choose to pursue, and our decisions must never cause harm to others, but as our times become increasingly narcissistic, the likelihood of creating rich existences can only diminish.

Review: The Adonis Procedure (The Leftovers Collective)

theleftoverscollectiveVenue: Hustle & Flow Bar (Redfern NSW), Nov 1, 2016
Devisors/Performers: Liam Benson, Curly Fries, Chantelle Jamieson, Tim Kemp, Lou Pollard, Courtney Stewart, Ronan Sulich, Paul Wilson
Image by William Suen

Theatre review
In a small bar, a drag queen by the name of Aphrodite greets us, as we gather to participate in a rare happening, a throwback to art events of the sixties that most have only read about. The performance is carried out by all in presence, as everyone is required to invest into the playacting that creates a scene of a high-status auction. First part of the show involves a series of presentations that investigate the 5 lots being put on sale. Classic Greek statues, brought to life by 5 actors emulating poses and reciting classic verse, while a cameraman zooms in tightly into a single spot on their bodies. A screen shows us skin and hair in hyperbolic detail. Thereafter, the crowd is encouraged to bid on the items, using money previously distributed by Aphrodite.

The crowd very quickly begins to pool their cash. We realise that these iconic objects are beyond the ownership of single persons. Entities begin to form, and wars break out over these relics of beauty. Ronan Sulic, the auctioneer from Christie’s is conducting the proceedings and we are all swept up in his verve and excitement, for the art, and for the money. Frantic contests to acquire esteemed works of art have occurred since the rise of the middle class, but it is an unusual episode for independent theatre and emerging artists. Our society values art, but not all of it. Money is channelled to certain people, while others languish in neglect. The system pretends to be based on merit, but it is not. In its alleged estimation of values such as beauty, skill and social significance, artists are placed in a triangular hierarchy that favours few and subjugates many. It is a problem of economic rationality, and a problem of applying capitalistic principles to how art comes to be in our lives.

When the crowd battles it out for their desired articles, it is the squabble that becomes the centre of attention, and any intrinsic qualities each statue might have had, fade into irrelevance. Art is social, and in this case, it is about who comes out on top, and who faces defeat. Of course, we all understand that great works should exist in the public domain, and not be controlled by individuals or organisations, but we are unable to fulfil that idealistic principle in how we actually carry out the business of art. Our institutions fail us, and our governments fail us. The increasing privatisation of everything in Australia, means that how we do art, is in accordance with how the elites will profit from all activity in the industry. The big guys are a dictatorship that determines the rules of what art should look like, and the small guys have to choose whether to submit to a career of emulation and placation. Forces in the economy want everyone to believe in the survival of the fittest, and when artists forget to question things, which is their most sacred purpose, art will die. In The Adonis Procedure however, subversion and interrogation of norms is its intent, and the key to making a kind of art that is lively, surprising, and necessary.