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.

www.melitarowston.com

Review: 6 Degrees Of Ned Kelly (Melita Rowston’s Shit Tourism)

melitarowstonVenue: Erskineville Town Hall (Erskineville NSW), Sep 2 – 6, 2015
Playwright: Melita Rowston
Director: Melita Rowston
Cast: Melita Rowston

Theatre review
The persistence of Ned Kelly’s legend in the consciousness of many Australians is symptomatic of the anti-authoritarian culture that we have inherited, since the dawn of European settlement. We are highly suspicious of governments and law enforcers, so it follows that myths about outlaws bear an eternal appeal. Melita Rowston’s 6 Degrees Of Ned Kelly is an exploration of her ties to that distinguished history, and an exercise in defining and aligning herself with an underdog characterised by his famed qualities of integrity and struggle. Rowston’s presentation takes the form of a relatively straightforward talk, with the support of a very well assembled slideshow. Her research is incredibly extensive, and the tales that she spins are surprising and fascinating, with fresh approaches to the Ned Kelly mystique that reveal how he remains relevant today.

Rowston’s presence is often tentative and nervous, but she relies on a warm enthusiasm to attain a comfortable connection with her audience, and the environment she creates is unquestionably inviting and accessible. We are not required to be aficionados, or indeed fans, of the Kelly gang, for we can all relate to the stories about family, and to that intuitive longing for a meaningful affiliation with the land on which we reside. Modernity has a propensity to keep people apart, and Rowston’s preoccupation with finding personal links that converge at a point of unity, is an admirable one. Fashion comes and goes, but the stuff that inspires us to be true and good, will resist annihilation.

www.melitarowston.com