Pineapple Queen Merde exposes the dark secrets of the tragic-comic Glasshouse Mountains Pineapple Queen, a woman whose domestic and textual mythologies are being eroded through constant retelling. To make matters worse her brutish husband (Michael Coughlan) refuses to follow the prescribed text and it is during these breaks that her real story, one rooted in madness and horror, is gradually revealed.
Here writer/director Norman Price revisits familiar themes. As in Barking Dogs and Urban Dingoes, Pineapple Queen Merde exists at a psychological threshold where what is said and what is unsaid converge and fracture. Hot as a tin roof and rangy as a lost dog, Price’s text engages with repetition and silence, using long monologues to reveal the utter isolation of the figures in his landscape.
The performances by O’Neill and Coughlan are commanding and unsettling. Both have trained extensively in the Suzuki method, a rigorous acting practice demanding total body control, and their combined physical mastery of the performance space is as unnerving as it is thrilling.
Like a spirit medium interpreting for the dead, O’Neill lets the sad tale of the Pineapple Queen occur through her, using her body as a kind of physic filter through which the text emerges. She is a uniquely gifted and disciplined performer and does not disappoint here.
Michael Coughlan is a terrifying, animalistic force in the role of the Pineapple Queen’s husband. A bush Bluebeard, Coughlan is by turns beautifully contained and violently unsafe.
At once beautiful and grotesquely ugly, Pineapple Queen Merde is a bloody Australian fairytale, complete with shining axes and buried secrets. I’ll never look at a tin of Golden Circle fruit the same way again…
Pineapple Queen Merde
by Norman Price
Creative Development Showing
Venue: Metro Arts | Level 1, 109 Edward Street, Brisbane
Dates: November 15 – 18 2007
Bookings: (07) 3002 7100
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