Dating in a Disposable World is a modern 21st century cabaret that uses a spooky character of Inuit myth, the Skeleton Woman, to narrate the often sad and sometimes funny, relationship breakdowns of several modern characters.
Playwright and performer Zalia Joi continually transforms between five extremely different characters in her 90 minute performance – keeping the audience on their toes, one minute having them laughing, the next throwing them into dark moments of reflection and thought.
In an intimate setting on the stage at the Astor Theatre, Joi and her accompanist and fellow composer Rod Christian explored life, love, heartbreak and high romantic expectations.
The performance starts with Joi as the Skeleton Woman, the stage is dark and sinister and Christian’s keyboard plays a haunting tune. Wearing something resembling several pairs of maracas on her hands, Joi shakes her instruments creating a noise that is reminiscent of rain, crashing waves and the movement of shells on the ocean floor.
She tells the tale of a young woman who angers her father who murders her, throwing her body off a cliff, leaving her flesh to be eaten by sea creatures and her skeleton to turn over and over in the currents.
Throughout the performance Joi returns to the myth, explaining how the Skeleton Woman’s bones are hooked by a fisherman who mistakenly drags her back to his home as he tries to flee the grisly scene. In a moment of compassion the fisherman untangles her bones and covers her with rugs to stay warm. During the night as the fisherman sleeps she removes his heart and chants to its beat, willing flesh to reappear on her body and life to return to her bones. In the morning they awake, both alive and wrapped in one another’s arms.
Creating light and shade in her production, Joi intersperses the myth of the Skeleton Woman with four other characters who share a common inability to either find or hold onto love.
Tiffany Twisted is a sexually flirtatious thirty-something woman who has turned to internet dating as her way of trying to find “the one.” Amber Rose is nursing a broken heart as she tries to move on from the motorcycle death of her soul mate. Cesar is a musician who despite being cheated on maintains a positive attitude to love. Eddy McGee is a typical “men behaving badly” character, a mechanic with nothing good to say about his nattering wife.
Joi opens her piece and closes it with the comment that many people fear that after love there is only death, but that in fact there is love after death. Though Joi did not deliver the usual happy ending and the fates of the characters are left untold, for me the story portrayed an underlying message of hope, that despite it all we will one day find love.
The production contains a number of original songs, some of which are written by Joi and Christian. Though the majority of songs where sung in character voices, my favourite ones were those sung by Joi in her own natural voice. I enjoyed her character work though I did feel that she played Tiffany too young, more like someone in their 20’s which didn’t quite deliver a realism to her performance.
After fundraising performances at the Astor Theatre, Dating in a Disposable World will be heading to the Toronto Fringe Festival in July.
Dating in a Disposable World
Written and performed by Zalia Joi
Musical direction by Rod Christian
Venue: The Astor Theatre Mount Lawley
Dates/Times: 8:30pm, 15 - 17 June 2010
Tickets: Standard $34.50, Concession (Pensioners, Seniors Cardholders, Full Time Students) $29.00
Bookings: BOCS 9484 1122 | www.bocsticketing.com.au