Photos – Clare Hawley
A character in Alistair McDowall’s Pomona, a character called Charlie, has a fetish, a fetish to cover the world with his jism. It’s not sexual, he insists, just an urge. Of overcoming the world, perhaps?
Charlie is an RPG, a role play gamer, a geek who works as a security guard. He reeks of insecurity and his speech is unguarded, except when it comes to his criminal record.
Charlie is partnered with Moe, a saturnine and sinister assassin, sanctioned to make someone disappear by hard bitten racketeer, Gale. Ollie is desperately seeking her twin sister, pretty sure she is in Pomona, a defunct part of Manchester which has become a place of nefarious fecundity.
Pomona is a place for harvesting babies and human organs, where women are abducted and raped and penned like human battery hens, gestating annually until their fertility wanes and then dissected for the anatomical spare parts trade.
Pomona is a play about the commodification of the body, especially the bodies of women. More shockingly, it presents this anatomical monetising presided over and propagated by women.
Alistair McDowall’s script is overlaid and over played with science fiction horror allusions, most specifically H P Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, a humanoid with an octopus pus. This creature sits in on the opening scene being fed Rubik cubes for information. The scene and the ensuing scenario taps into the Lovecraftian idea that humans were actually created as a slave race.
Like Lovecraft, McDowall’s writing is dense and prosaic and puzzling. Director Anthony Skuse highlights this with a pacing that makes the Pinter pause seem breakneck and breathless by comparison, eliciting coma from a comma, stupor from a full stop.
Skuse’s trademark design of skewed, angled playing space is on display here and befits the disorienting, dystopian mood of the piece. But the stodgy staging tends to disengage, creeping terror is replaced by creeping tedium, and one is reminded of Charlie, and his fetish, and Pomona is reduced to theatrical onanism.
Secret House presents
by Alistair McDowall
Director Anthony Skuse
Venue: KXT - Kings Cross Theatre | Kings Cross Hotel, 244-248 William St, Kings Cross NSW
Dates: 24 January – 8 February 2020