You know when you’re looking at your date for the theatre wearing a paper bag over their head, and you are peering through your own, the evening has gone a little bit awry. Celine Dion’s head is zooming around on the end of a crane with laser red eyes and two men are perched on a couch in costumes resembling rounded vaginas with mutant clitorises and tall skinny head dresses that look like piles of gold on their head. So let’s rewind.
Discordianism is a religion founded by two Californians in 1963 – some say a religion disguised as a massive joke, others a massive joke disguised as a religion, either way there was surely LSD involved. With its main tenets of absurdism and embracing chaos, everything happens for NO REASON – a fine platform for Melbourne theatre glitterati such as Will and Garrett Huxley, Holly Durant, Gabi Barton and Supple Fox to dress in pink sequinned body suits and spread craziness in the bowels of the Arts Centre. After making their silent, solemn entrance down the stairs as their ethos is espoused by narrator Lee Lin Chin, we are all ordered to put our mobile phones through a security scanner and on the other side are handed a condom packet with a hole punched in it.
As we file into the depths of the theatre, some of us are siphoned off to the side as chosen ones who clearly “embrace the unholy glory of chaos”, for which we are rewarded with a performance by a Discordiant at the bottom of some stairs writhing around inside a sequinned rock.
We are then herded upstairs to be seated at the base of the bizarre “bondage chair” sculpture which is embedded all over with sets of human teeth. Here we are poured glasses of punch and a Discordiant emerges from the shadows to wail Celine Dion’s I’m Your Lady at us.
After this brief slice of cabaret we are shown into the “church” aka the theatre, where the other converts/audience members have been hidden away on stage under a massive dome made out of hundreds of fire blankets. We are all treated to a “chorale” by the Discordiants, everyone files out into the seats, the paper bags are distributed and it clicks into what can only be described as a more uplifting episode of the dystopian TV series Black Mirror.
In the ecstatic finale filled with leg kicking and arm flailing glee, we are exhorted to embrace the chaos, stop peering into other people’s lives through our phone screens and to keep up the “painful but beautiful dance through life’s endless intersections”. And then they all disappear dramatically through a giant inflatable vagina.
For those with an appetite for the absurd, Discordia was unforgettable, and for those who don’t like silliness they might be trying damn hard to forget it. But really, if anyone was taking it seriously, the joke was on them.
Arts Centre Melbourne in association with Melbourne Fringe Festival present
Venue: Fairfax Studio | Arts Centre Melbourne
Dates: 27 September – 1 October 2017