The publicity material for this production mentions the Australian Sex Party and the nod-nod-wink-wink suburb of Fyshwick, but really this aspect is a ‘bit-part’ in what is a delicately woven patchwork of stories about Australia’s political landscape. The Major Minor Party is not a comedy revue, nor is it a piss-taking diatribe on politicians. It’s a dramatic window and even a reflection on the chasm between what politicians deliver and what we as the citizens expect.
The context for the material is grounded in Canberra’s centenary as a means of taking stock of where we are today as a city and nation, covering in 90 minutes a succession of scenes about themes. There isn’t anything of this past year such as the NDIS, carbon tax and the budget blowout, which is good because the play actually covers the undercurrent of core topics such as voluntary euthanasia, abortion, marriage equality, and pornography.
Bringing the content to life involves some partial nudity, and a bit of dancing but these are integrated within the storyline; not rah-rah musical type cha-chas. The five performers (Drew Fairley, Irving Gregory, James Lugton, Jane Phegan, Kym Vercoe) act in different roles for each scene – sometimes all together or just one or two at a time. All are professional and project their voices well, with a balance of subtle body language and exaggerated movement where required. Lugton especially conveyed the presence and voice intonations perfectly as Tony Abbott.
The production is a collaboration between ‘devisors’, which include the performers, the dramaturgs (Chris Ryan and Dr Yana Taylor) and others. Perhaps with so many cooks, the broth frothed over a little with some scenes seemingly interminable; endless waiting for something to happen. But then maybe that represents how the Australian people feel about politicians. Waiting for someone, something truly inspirational to lead us all happily into the future. But is this even possible? The performers present a selection of views across the spectrum of Australian society and even from those overseas to stoke the intellectual fires.
Keeping the attention in those quieter moments and livening up the climactic points was the excellent multimedia display including the film and imagery from devisor/video artist Sean Bacon combined with the enhancing soundscape from Paul Prestipino, and the diverse and original application of lighting by Frank Mainoo.
The Major Minor Party is not your linear storyline with a distinct beginning, middle and end, but it does take the audience on an arc of reflection. You should see this if you have a passion for politics and the future of Australia and have an open mind about what is going on. But if you don’t give a toss about politics, then the subject matter of this production will be perplexing. Certainly though the quality of the acting, direction and offstage elements is worthy of paying attention regardless.
Centenary of Canberra and Canberra Theatre Centre present
The Major Minor Party
Venue: The Playhouse | Canberra Theatre Centre
Dates: 29 May – 1 June, 2013
Matinee: Saturday 1 June at 2pm
Tickets: $63 – $30
Bookings: (02) 6275 2700 | canberratheatrecentre.com.au