Review: A Period Piece (Glitterbomb / The Old 505 Theatre)

Venue: Old 505 Theatre (Newtown NSW), Mar 14 – 25, 2017
Playwright: Gretel Vella
Director: Carissa Licciardello
Cast: Mikaela Atallah, Hannah Cheers, Julia Christensen, Clare Hennessy, Mat Lee, Julia Robertson, James Wright
Image by Omnes Photography

Theatre review (of a preview performance)
In Gretel Vella’s A Period Piece, menstruation takes centre stage in each of its madcap episodes. Mischievous and irreverent, its collection of short skits takes a look at the absurd taboo that surrounds the subject, and its significance as a mechanism of misogyny in our daily lives. The work presents entertaining observations, and an important perspective on how society is taught to be afraid and ashamed of women’s bodies, and how that irrational aversion informs the way we have constructed sexism through the ages.

The production, directed by Carissa Licciardello, is delightfully high-spirited, with an energetic cast that zips gleefully from one comedic scene to another. A band of three musicians add even more vibrancy to the atmosphere, playing silly songs that keep us in a giddy mood, while driving home further, the show’s message of female empowerment. Set design by Nick Fry is a simple idea, but fastidiously executed to help illustrate the antiquated values we carry, with unforgivable obstinacy, in order that systems of patriarchy may be upheld.

There is a rawness to A Period Piece that is unapologetic, and very enjoyable. It is an untidy affair, but inviting and joyful, although a more philosophical approach could provide greater depth (and a more lasting impression) to its concerns. When Aristophanes dreamt up the story of Lysistrata and foregrounded the fact that a woman’s womb, and her sexuality, controls all our existence, we should have begun to see that her holding up half the sky is an understatement.

www.dasglitterbomb.com

5 Questions with Julia Christensen and James Wright

Julia Christensen

Julia Christensen

James Wright: Regardless of whether you believe in past lives, what/who would you like to imagine you were in a past life?
Julia Christensen: OK, I really can’t subscribe to believing in anything as utterly ludicrous as past lives, but also I COMPLETELY ONE HUNDO-PERCENTO BELIEVE I WAS A GENTLE TEXAN COWBOY. I was a renegade gun-slinger with a deadly aim and heart of gold.

What’s your perfect Sunday? And would it be different if money was no object?
My perfect Sunday involves no deadlines. My current day to day is on a super-tight-ship-shape schedule, so my ideal is wanting what I can’t have. Late morning start and some exercise with an animal (species irrelevant, I’ll walk an axolotl if necessary). Then great coffee, writing, reading and someone with a beautiful mind to talk about life and the world with. Head into rehearsals or see something/be in something on stage, debrief with aforementioned beautiful mind and hopefully passionately disagree with them so we can have a fantastic argument over a house red or four. If money were no object, it would just be a variation on a theme, probably featuring more dogs or teacup pigs and whiskey. While I’m at it, let’s transfer the whole scene to London at The National Theatre; I’ll catch a matinee followed by an early evening performance at The Donmar. And I’ll pay for Rose McGowan, Caitlin Stacey and Gang of Youths to join me. And you, Jamesy!

Is it better to live comfortably but be professionally uninspired or to live simply while following your passion?
Live simply and follow your passion. Straight up. I’m fuelled by instant coffee, rollies, art and beautiful human beings more so than I could ever be fuelled by material possessions. Bukowski once wrote, ‘find what you love and let it make you wonder how the fuck you’re going to make rent this week and hope to fuckery you’ve got enough money on your card to pay for this $3.30 coffee please say Approved, please sa- HAHA YES!’ Or something to that affect, I might be paraphrasing. (Just a call-out post to my privilege. As a cis-white-hetero the only way I could move through space with more privilege is if I had a dick. I live in heckin’ Marrickville; my version of ‘simple’ would be so many other’s ‘comfortable’)

Do you think we’re all better off being unaware that were living under tyranny or aware but ultimately powerless in resisting it?
Thank you for fielding this question to your resident Baby Socialist. Democracy is a necessary tyranny. It’s the most defective political structure except for all the other ones we’ve tried. If tyranny is understood as cruel and oppressive government, there are so many current political policies that are being enforced (let’s go for an obvious target: Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers) that I would describe as such. So. People are unaware of the “tyranny” we exist under because we dress it up with the title ‘Democracy’, and people are therefore powerless in resisting it because they are compliant, and therefore complicit in their own oppression. We’re completely free… within a closely monitored, tightly confined structure. Although, take me with a pinch of salt and also the entire Dead Sea here, because this is all come from someone who pays rent of time every month with the money she makes from selling women things they don’t need, and the mere thought of not Tapping On makes me skittish. Sorry, I’ve turned the volume on this casual Q&A up to Full Hektik, but I have a chronic case of NO CHILL also SEXUALITY IS A SPECTRUM, GENDER ISN’T BINARY, THE CAKE IS A LIE. xoxo.

What is your all-time dream role?
Gimme a crack at Romeo or Mercutio. I’m hungry for Donna from Shanley’s The Dreamer Examines His Pillow. Martha from Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf and Beatrice one day. But Donna soon, I hope.

James Wright

James Wright

Julia Christensen: In today’s competitive break-neck-pace capitalist society, can a man truly have it all?
I believe a man could achieve that perfect combination of a fulfilling career, decent income and work/life balance in today’s crazy world if they maybe free themselves from feeling the need to adhere to social expectations whether that be about gender roles or financial gain, if they can be driven and strive towards short term goals while also being open minded to the unplanned unpredictables, and if we all rise up and overthrow the fascist tyranny which both rules and abuses us at each step of our personal journeys.

When you reintroduced yourself to me at our second rehearsal because you forgot who I was and thought we hadn’t met, was that the first time that had happened to you or have you always been a self absorbed prick?
I have always been a self-absorbed, unobservant, forgetful prick who speaks first and thinks later.

If nothing of us is original and we are all just a swirling conglomerate of other people’s ideas and influences, how much of you is Toadie from Neighbours?
Ha well unfortunately for this moment only I have never watched Neighbours. I see myself as an awkward blend of Ace Ventura, Jesse Eisenberg and Withnail.

What would you get written on your tombstone?
Instead of a tombstone I just want a tree grown from seeds sprinkled onto my corpse… and because that’s what I want I’ll accept that someone will probably scratch WANKER on it once it’s grown.

Julia Christensen and James Wright can be seen in