Written by Foundry Theatre’s Kirk Lynn, and performed by Steve Cuiffo and Melanie Joseph, Major Bang or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dirty Bomb is a postmodern look at the post-September 11 culture of fear, in the face of very real terrorist threats and very surreal media hype.
This is an excellent show – brilliantly conceived and impeccably performed, it shows a refreshing new angle on the current terrorism situation, subtly avoiding the phrase “9/11.” It is often absurd and funny, but as with all good comedy, the humour has a bite. The performers bombard the audience with magic tricks, film, slapstick comedy, and storytelling, each mode of performance contributing a new layer of artistic exploration into the contradictions between fear and threat.
Imagined characters, situations, and stories emanate from items found in an unattended bag on a train: objects woven into stories of hilarious connections and frightening circumstances. These fictions are superimposed onto critical and historical analysis, as the piece has a strong basis in the factual absurdities of the contemporary political situation. The show surrenders and then reclaims everyday symbols of terrorism, reforming them as everyday items.
The two performers shift suddenly between characters, sometimes commenting on the action of the piece and sometimes meta-theatrically stepping out to refer to the work. The performers openly admit fundamental flaws in the show to hilarious effect (by referencing the film The Bodyguard), highlighting the construction and artifice of the piece. This is sometimes chaotic and confusing, but it all adds to the playful humour of the piece. Cuiffo performs funny and understated magic tricks, wowing the audience with his skills while we are simultaneously bombarded with Joseph’s dexterous verbosity. The two play off each other brilliantly, with a witty rapport that oscillates between flimsy homemade bomb shelters, a wacky semaphore dance, and a piss-take of The Bodyguard.
Major Bang is superbly written, well performed, and enjoyable. It is an excellent example of comedic theatre that also manages to be challenging and thought-provoking.
Sydney Opera House Adventures:07 presents
The Foundry Theatre
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dirty Bomb
Playhouse | Sydney Opera House
17– 29 July
Wed – Fri at 8pm, Sat at 5pm & 9pm, Sun at 5pm | Tues 24 July at 6.30 pm with post show Artists Talk
02 9250 7777 or www.sydneyoperahouse.com/adventures