Status is a work of verbatim theatre created by a consortium (Michelle Barber, Stephen Barber and director Cameron Menzies) and was culled from interviews with 45 people who are HIV positive, or who are close to or caring for someone who is. Status was produced here to tie in with the 2014 International AIDS conference.
It’s an intensely felt and important work as there is still a stigma and much misunderstanding around the issue of people living with HIV. The show is exactly what you’d expect it to be, there were no surprises apart from a deepening realisation of how much ignorance there is still in the world and what people have to endure in addition to managing their compromised health.
The performances are all strong but Brigid Gallacher stands out. Kath Gordon was fine but still slightly finding her feet; her pacing wasn’t quite as convincing as the younger woman’s. The two men, Matt Hickey and Will Conyers, were less interesting and neither of them seemed fully committed to the accents (eg, Irish, North American) that they used in certain segments, a surprising flaw in the production, it has to be said. Being verbatim, the real sense of authenticity in Status rings clearly.
At one stage the audience becomes witness to a deathbed scenario, the dying man being the sort of character many of us are very familiar with. A strong sense of poignancy runs throughout the show and, again, surprisingly (in a good but sad way), Status doesn’t dish out the warm fuzzies at the end – there isn’t a heart-warming or uplifting finale to these stories; they just are. You are left with a feeling of sadness and respect for the levels of individual courage from the contributors, one of the aims of the production.
The STATUS Consortium proudly presents
Director Cameron Menzies
Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne – Fairfax Studio
Dates: 23 – 27 July, 2014
Times: Wed – Sat 9pm, Sat and Sun 3pm, Wed 2pm
Tickets: $40 Full, $37 Concession (FT Students, Pensioners, Seniors)
Bookings: 1300 182 183 and www.artscentremelbourne.com.au
STATUS is an affiliated independent event of the 20th International AIDS Conference.