Left - Kym Vercoe and Jane Vaile. Cover - David
Williams and Kym Vercoe
The space is a jumble of TV screens, large projection screens, and multiple hanging bags of wheat. Version 1.0’s sets often resemble TV studios, and this piece is no different. The space is populated by multiple screens of various sizes, all showing different information. News tickers and logos often appear on these screens, giving an air of authenticity – and mediatisation – to the videos.
Deeply Offensive and Utterly Untrue is a performative inquiry into the transcript of the 2006 Cole Inquiry into the Oil for Food scandal. It teases apart the 8500 pages of transcript, presenting select moments in capsulated form. On the surface, a legal inquiry such as this may seem like a boring topic for a theatre performance. But Version 1.0 attempt to liven it up by introducing a medley of bizarre moments, chalk maps, filmic camera angles, impersonations, and even remote-controlled cars. The group highlight the hypocrisy of the scenario, distilling the paper trail, the characters involved and the interviews themselves into snappy segments.
The cast is versatile, with Stephen Klinder and Kym Vercoe in particular delivering strong performances. Klinder’s Alexander Downer, as they cross live to him at the theatre’s bar outside, manages to bring new comedy to a man who has already been mocked so much.
Overall, however, the performance fails to move far enough beyond a complex summary of a labyrinthine report, and meaning is lost in the complexity of the sheer number of characters, circumstances and recollections. The few moments it does step back and take a definitive stance on the issue are the stand-outs, and are the moments when the most clarity is offered. The performers occasionally directly address the audience, for instance in Vercoe’s lament about the disparity between the lack of punishment of the AWB and the reaction to Mohamed Haneef’s comparatively trivial digression. Another effective moment is the orchestral recitation of “highlights” of statements given by interviewees – mainly consisting of “I don’t know” and “I can’t recall” – which includes careful climaxes and humourous pauses.
David Williams, the company manager of Version 1.0 and a performer in the piece, says in the programme notes that they have attempted to clarify the issue, presumably to avoid promoting the “strategic avoidance of thinking” Williams believes Downer practices. However, they seem to have gotten so involved with the unwieldy document that the performance itself often lapses into being too complicated and unfocussed. A performance concentrating on this one report is bound to get its audience thinking more closely about the issue, but I’m afraid that for me, these thoughts won’t linger far beyond the performance.
Version 1.0 presents
Deeply Offensive & Utterly Untrue
Venue: Performance Space @ CarriageWorks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh
24-26 Aug – Fri-Sat 8pm Sun 5pm
29 Aug–8 Sep - Wed-Sat 8pm Sun 5pm
Tickets: $30 Full $25 Conc $20 (+ Booking Fee) Student Rush Wed + Thur All Tix $12
Artist Talk: Wednesday 29 AUG (after the show)
Bookings: moshtix.com.au , 02 9209 4614, moshtix outlets