Share House | 2015 Big West FestivalShare House is a contemporary piece exploring the relationships between ‘strangers’ that co-inhabit a rental property.

Performed in a house in Yarraville, each room has a story and each story is centred on a housemate with conflicting neurotic traits.

Written and performed by three members of the Victorian University Theatre Club, Mia Robinson, Ben Snaath and Sean Ryan, the work features in this year’s Big West Festival – a community based, contemporary arts festival that promotes cutting edge, multi-cultural and multi-art form events in venues, cultural sites and suburban streets of Melbourne’s western suburbs.

The Festival’s theme for 2015 celebrates the inner and outer world of the HOUSE. By using No. 4 Deakin Street as a temporary theatre space it automatically assumes a sense of surrealism and yet, this social narrative would feel strangely familiar to anyone who’s ever lived in a share house with its smorgasbord of inane conversations, confrontations and randomness.

This work intentionally rejects the conventions of traditional theatre with its non-linear plot, undefined structure and disjointed dialogue to convey the irrational nature of their reality and heighten the drama and absurdity.

The action, with its deliberate absence of cause and effect creates chaos and tension for the players and audience alike. These anti-theatre techniques force us, the audience to become a “fly-on-the-wall”; to witness but not comment on the reaches of their imagination, dreams and desires (or lack of).

Over the course of 60 minutes we are bemused and amused. Its appeal for me, lay in the characterisations (albeit exaggerated) of the housemates, the sparse set design with its compulsory dank kitchen and bathroom and the sarcastic overtones of the A4 notes blu tacked and strewn throughout. I particularly liked the one demanding Mia pay “$78.34 for her boyfriend staying overnight because THIS IS NOT A HOTEL.”

There’s also an element of orchestrated discord purely by the number of players involved. Three messes with the dynamics and allows the creators to manipulate the tension. The “You Never Scapegoat” game where Mia & Sean tie Ben (presumably with his consent) to the clothesline, swathe him in toilet paper and masking tape and proceed to flagellate and torment him with his medicinal plant and insults, is possibly a foray into the subconscious. And the three-way conversation about “where they’ll all be in five year’s time” provides us with psychological insights whilst reinforcing the males’ lack of motivation and Mia’s unwillingness to truly ‘share’ or open up.

The Big West Festival and the production itself, has provided these students with a great opportunity to have their work realized in a completely uninhibited manner. So much so, that the 11am performance on the Saturday actually clashed with a real life open house inspection – complete with agitated Property Manager & dumbstruck potential tenants thinking, WTF?

How terribly surreal?

2015 Big West Festival
Share House

Venue: 4 Deakin St, Yarraville
Dates: 21 – 22 Nov, 2015
Tickets: $20 – $15

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