Around Australia, and around the world, theatre-makers are finally taking their craft into their own hands – and homes.
In the past few years, there has been a flourishing of theatre occurring in lounge rooms and backyards. It’s nothing new –theatre-makers like Michael Mohammed Ahmad (The Tribe) have spoken of their work as paying homage to the ancient tradition of the Bedouin poets. But here and now, frustrated by the insurmountable gate-keeping and bureaucracy of larger theatre companies, artists are returning to intimate, domestic settings to make the work they want to make, on their own terms. As this form grows in popularity, artists will discover how to use the form to their best advantage; they will explore what is unique and what is possible in this particular form. With their new show This, This is Mine, Sydney-based company The Corinthian Food Store show themselves already to be masters of the form.
Writer/director Duncan Ragg has crafted a marvellous thing. His script and direction fill the space to the brim with tension, humour, poetry and realism. The story takes place in the present, and yet there is a feeling of being transported. When I arrived at the apartment, the atmosphere was casual, welcoming, low-key; and yet when the performance began, the whole room seemed to gently shift and become something else. Performers Charles Wu and Matilda Ridgway hold this space perfectly. They are a perfectly matched pair. They remain utterly present with each other from start to finish; they make their intricate, controlled performances seem the most natural thing in the world.
The politics of the piece aren’t always perfect or comfortable, which is wonderful. The profoundly intimate relationship between the two characters allows them to express two very different personhood and two very different – but not at all unrelated – Australias. At times where the conversation between the two slides into open, unmasked political debate, I at first felt uncomfortable – as though this human drama had suddenly plummeted into a heady, socratic dialogue. But these are the kinds of things that friends often talk (or argue) about – so why don’t we see those imperfect, uncomfortable, difficult conversations on stage more often? Here is a piece of theatre that was able to portray two young Australians as articulate, politically minded, and desperate to talk and fight and brawl their way towards something meaningful, without any idea of what that might be.
This season in Melbourne is already sold out, but if you hear of any spare tickets floating around, cancel all your plans and rush to this show. It is supremely affecting, deeply intelligent, truly live and fearless performance.
THIS, THIS IS MINE
Writer/Director: Duncan Ragg
Performers: Charles Wu, Matilda Ridgway
Designers: Isabella Andronos, Michael Hili
Producer: Vanessa White
Stage Manager: Timothy Spohr
Musician/Sound Design: Charles Wu
Lounge Rooms Around Melbourne