Left – Linda Cropper. Photo Zan Wimberley
Australian Realness is a revenge fantasy that came from seeing the working class locked out of the arts – a bogan and bourgeois battle for a suburban backyard.
The premise is established early – a middle class Australian family is struggling to pay for the luxurious lifestyle to which all members have become accustomed. Father desperately tries some belated frugality and mother blithely refuses to face reality. Their very pregnant daughter is a veritable princess and the son deals in the coinciding worlds of stocks and drugs. As their personal world is crumbling so too the neighbourhood is threatened with destruction as soulless apartments take the place of historic homes. The bourgeois stage is set.
Enter the bogans – renting the shed at the back. Dad works on the apartment construction sites, the mum is mouthy and the son unemployed.
The Malthouse Theatre ensemble neatly alternate roles between bourgeois and bogan under the direction of Janice Muller.
Linda Cropper is irresistible as the middle-class mother and the mouthy mum lighting up the stage whenever she appears. Greg Stone is equally commanding as he swaps between the father roles. Andre de Vanny makes the most of his dual roles as the son in each family and Chanella Macri shines as the daughter’s partner.
Emily Goddard tackles the pivotal role as the daughter with finesse. This is no mean feat as her character is the linchpin in a production that descends from very real humour and characters into fantastical weirdness.
This is a strange, illusory and disparate production with moments of brilliance and instances that baffle. It is surreal. Brilliant moments include the art installation that blurs the lines between reality and art, as well as the family eating dinner at the end. Baffling moments are the satirical slapstick chase over furniture as dad chases his wayward son and an impromptu dance performance by the redneck son.
Designer Romanie Harper is to be applauded for a set that needed to reflect the collapse of the structure of the middle-class home into stark and baffling chaos.
Class structure is the target in this play, written by Zoey Dawson. Dawson aims to spark conversation about class structure in Australia today. She succeeds. Conversations are likely to abound about this bizarre production, and as a result what it all means.
Malthouse Theatre presents
by Zoey Dawson
Director Janice Muller
Venue: Malthouse Theatre | 113 Sturt Street, South Bank VIC
Dates: 21 August – 8 September 2019
Tickets: $35 – $72
Bookings: 03 9685 5111 | malthousetheatre.com.au