Left – Eden Falk, Mish Grigor and Zoe Coombs Marr. Cover – Eden Falk, Zoe Coombs Marr and Mish Grigor. Photos – Heidrun Lohr
If ever you thought about renewing your resume or are in need of some advice on how to further your career, then the advice from performer Mish Grigor in this fresh comedy, to 'simply reach for the moon, because even if you don't make it, you are likely to land on the stars' should be taken very seriously.
Who's the Best explores, through the arc of three individuals (none of which being your run of the mill performer or dancer) the results and realities of how our society perceives and compares success.
Mish Grigor, Natalie Rose (Eden Falk) and Zoe Coombs Marr, speak truthfully about their struggles and spell out very orderly their differences and similarities in a quest to be deemed the' best'. From the beginning of the show they take us around, back stage and over to their illustrious dreams with the help of absurd metaphor, ridiculous dance, physical bravado and even personal satire. The characters, all in white, stood on the stage and proclaimed what they believed they were the best at. Props weren't needed in this show as we were entertained with moving curtains which were there, so it seemed, to patronize and taunt with the performance.
A set of rules governing what would ultimately be a showdown to prove who, out of these three 'friends' was the best, became the checklist we had to keep up with. Through various psychological and physical demands, the performers took us with them on a rigorous, bumpy course of elimination. Their talents were read out one by one and criticized and then defended. The lighting design by Matthew Marshall seemed to play as a utility for where these raconteurs would finally end up. Projections of gold, brass, silver and red, clung to the stage and to each other. The additions and then subtractions of the lights in quick succession sounded out the cries of these determined competitors.
That's where this performance really opened up into a unique validation of how pretentious we can actually be. Many questions were posed as a result, questions about our societal conventions and about how we personally search for that comfortable success.
Artists are there to show the rest of us what little details actually exist and they are always magical details. The poet Goethe used 'deeds and sufferings' to describe how natural light falls on an object through the many sequences involved in this incredibly perfect action. Who's the Best allowed us that perfect detail: we heard what people felt when they danced and what it took to survive in a world full of complex human variety. The stage became the world, ever shifting; unpredictable. There were monologues of confidence and of shame, speeds of movement and uncertainty sprawled across the floor; avocados, air conditioners, pizza trains and dismantled rollercoaster's.
'Work like you don't care about the money' and 'dance like no one's watching', were what the performers agreed upon in their hysterical comedy of serious things about nothing.
Seinfeld would be proud to see some hints of his absurd conversations stretched out across meaningful stories. Everything was talked about; including hair and physicality, too many friends or simply not enough. The diverse realism of this performance along with its tensions certainly achieved a healthy audience response.
To be that one in a million success story, that celebrity: we were told that we had 'to Stir the pot', 'not make any friends'. 'Those who can't do, teach'! 'Everyday heroes were the ones that put everything into one basket'.
Everything was possible, as long as you had intruding jazz and terrible dancing!
There was a running theme about a survey that we had to take to decide the winner and inevitably, never did, or did we? Intermittent stops, were the heart beat of this ridiculous canvas where the audience was being asked to work much harder, and concentrate much more than they would in a more traditional piece of theatre.
So perhaps, ultimately, we should avoid looking superficially at normative versions of what is attractive. Our good and our bad were celebrated here today with a show of lights and pop music and the occasional wink. Three characters; all successful in delivering a message through conversation.
I must agree and appreciate having been there to capture this acoustic space which left one thinking twice and three times about – well just about.
Who's the Best
Venue: Arts House, Meat Market | 5 Blackwood Street, North Melbourne
Dates: 3 – 6 August, 2011
Tickets: $30 full, $25 conc.
Bookings: www.artshouse.com.au | 03 9322 3713