This latest from the Hayloft Project is such a goody. Enormously enjoyable and clever, it delivers a satisfyingly strong structure, an original and well-developed storyline and impeccable performances including some impressive a Capella singing. The classic end of the world scenario is used here by writer/director Benedict Hardie to make a lot of fun of the privileged classes in the form of a family of five who are left to populate the world after the apocalypse. The power struggles and dynamics between the hapless individuals under the control of the awful Thor (Josh Price) are wittily played out with some unpredictable results. But, as they soon discover, some other humans have also survived: a handful of Chinese!
The show opens with scenes of an extremely nervous choir giving us a choral arrangement of It Must Have Been Love. This amusing conceit – the choral interludes of bad 80s love ballads to Bach – is wonderfully resolved in the story. It’s funny and musically impressive, including an occasional atonality within classic Bach arrangements and the wonderful bass voice of Anthony Mackey along with Simone Page Jones’s stunning soprano. We eventually discover what the stakes are for this brave little choir as they are literally singing for world peace. 350 years after the first family bunkered down, their descendents and clones are about to go back up to the surface of the planet. Rather than waging war, which is the plan, the choir, in the most god-awful robes of orange satin trimmed with leather, has subversively broken rank and will try to disarm the Chinese with song. The costume and set designers (Esther Marie Hayes and Claude Marcos) have had the best time matching up outfits to furnishings.
Most of the play takes place within a small square, overwhelmingly papered in floral; the intense feeling of claustrophobia unrelieved by a Van Gogh print, its sad presence a reminder of what has been destroyed above. The big themes of humanity, spirituality and future eating are rambunctiously played about within a show that holds nothing back in its gleeful exposure of just how ridiculous human beings can be. The later scenes involving the descendents and clones involve lovely references to earlier conversations; like a centuries-old game of Chinese whispers, language has mutated and memories distorted into a quasi-religion. Reginald’s dream of an albatross has spawned a priest-like figure called Albatross. Like they say in the future, ‘it’s all fuck-arse!”
The Hayloft Project and Theatre Works present
by Benedict Hardie
Directed by Benedict Hardie
Venue: Theatre Works | 14 Acland St, St Kilda
Dates: 31 Mar – 17 Apr 2011
Times: 8:00pm Tue – Sat, 5:00pm Sun
Tickets: $28 full | $20 conc | $15 preview, Tuesdays, group 10+ (plus booking fee)
Bookings: 03 9534 3388 | www.theatreworks.org.au