Warnings abound: “Suitable for mature audiences. Contains sex scenes, nudity, drug use and frequent coarse language”. Well it did contain these, albeit fleetingly and inoffensively, except that the F word was flung around very generously, as might be expected from the title.
Described as “Groundbreaking, home-brewed musical theatre that f**king rocks”, this experimental and high energy excursion into early 21st century “popera” makes good theatre, but I can’t see it enjoying the longevity of its generic predecessors.
The author/composer Sean Peter has woven a plot around four twenty-somethings sharing a house, each with their own preoccupations: one with climbing the corporate ladder, one with TV (which finally consumes her) and her terminal diagnosis, one struggling with faith and death and love, and one off with the pixels in cyberspace. But they all also share a common disillusionment about the futility of life.
The theme of post September 11 despairing suburban anomic angst permeates the first act in particular, almost to the point of being over done, in spite of some nice allusions to wanting to escape from it all, such as “Sesame Street is better than reality when everything’s fucked!”, and “I wish I were a goldfish finding the same rock anew every day!”, and wishing it was still September 10.
The plot develops in the second act producing a greater level of interest, as the four protagonists grapple with hope vs. despair, repeatedly shown by posing the distinction between being the chicken or the cook. Each of these very accomplished young actors (Abbie Cardwell, Andre Eikmeier, Alexander Jenkins and Lisa Sontag) has individual appeal and undeniable ability. They portray these disparate and sometimes desperate characters with intensity and fine authenticity - and they can all sing. The coordination of sound, pre-recorded accompaniment, lighting, stage levels and other technicals was excellent, and complemented the fine acting and singing, so that the whole moved with pace and credibility.
Nevertheless, I grow tired of speak–singing, or what ever we may call it. The amorphous text and tunes are only peppered with random rhymes and scant and scattered scansion, the vocal line often bearing minimal relationship to the accompaniment. This genre is not forever – perhaps even not for long. Neither is the particular context (post 9/11, corporate downsizing and digital everything) of this universal theme. Perhaps time will relegate this, with other attempts like it, to the category of the Not-Very-Musical. But the Adelaide Festival Centre and Autopilot Productions are to be commended for this important venture. Any such adventurous experiment as this is to be lauded: without these attempts, theatre has no growing edge.
Adelaide Festival Centre's iNSPACE program in association with AutoPilot Productions presents
A New Musical by Sean Peter
Venue: Space - Adelaide Festival Centre
Dates: 1 - 18 August
Times: August 1 - 4, 10 & 11, 17 & 18 @ 8pm; Matinee Aug 4 @ 3pm
Tickets: $30 - $25
Bookings: BASS - 131 246