Reality. We usually go to the theatre to escape it. But The Corinthian Food Store’s production of This, This Is Mine is about confronting life at a personal level and living in Australian society. Can individuality exist within a culture that isn’t even clearly defined?
Blockbuster theatre with a mega-audience this is not. Instead, this original play’s power is in the setting: an intimate audience, watching the drama unfold of two childhood friends in their 20s finding themselves lost in humanity and Australianity.
Multi-generational Aussie Eva (Matilda Ridgway) arrives at her father’s place after attending his funeral. She was estranged from him, and her childhood memories resurface when friend Lester (Shiv Palekar) drops in. Is he there for Eva or for his own narcissistic reasons? The duo merges their personal stories past and present, all the time the sexual tension building. Will Eva find peace? Why is Lester there?
The highlight of This, This Is Mine is the script by Duncan Ragg, which follows the ‘show-don’t-tell’ storytelling tenet perfectly. The dialogue is contemporary and natural and maintains a steady pace through the banter of these unlikely friends. The contrast to Lester’s exotic Indian heritage and family wealth is stark against Eva’s working class broken family. There are comedic moments as as well as heartache. Through their life stories pop up bigger issues of what it means to live in society, what is white man guilt, and what is ‘Australian’. None of this is answered of course, because there is no real answer. There are many head-nodding moments of ‘so true’ as Lester and Eva comment on what it means to live in this time. Themes include the age-old emotional riptides of dysfunctional families, racism, and broken trust in romantic relationships.
This piece relies so very much on the intimacy of the actor-audience relationship. Being in an actual living room and seeing someone open a real fridge, use a real window, and real doors – means you have skin in the game. Feel genuine frustration at Lester’s erratic behaviour and Eva’s heartbreak.
The chemistry between Ridgway and Palekar is genuine. And that is essential when the audience is so close to the action, to see the tears welling, the true laughter rippling through the ribcage. It all makes for a voyeuristic experience, but not in a creepy way. More like being an angel, watching over these lost souls, pushing them to make peace with each other and themselves.
Want to get up close and personal? The subtle contemplation that is This, This Is Mine concentrates personal drama and Australia’s identity – without a preachy lecture.
The Corinthian Food Store Collectivepresents
This, This Is Mine
by Duncan Ragg
Directed by Duncan Ragg
Venue: 17 Quandong Street, O'Connor ACT
Dates: 30 September – 1 October 2016