30 July 2009

Care Instructions

Care Instructions
Malthouse Theatre and Aphids
11 July 2009
Tower Theatre, CUB Malthouse


You know that annoying moment when you’re watching a play, movie or even reading a book and you realise you have no idea what’s going on because your brain wandered off?

I loved watching and listening to Care Instuctions. As someone who hates washing, it was almost cathartic to see the white sheets, the pink knickers and the black t-shirts cast aside with an intriguing mix of love and irreverence. The design is beautiful, the performer trio (Jane Bayly, Liz Jones and Caroline Lee) are divine and the language flows, splashes and meanders like creek made of music – but I wasn’t listening to the words and could not have told you what this show was about had I not read the program – and even then, I still missed the Sleeping Beauty references.

I know if I read Cynthia Troup’s script, I’d probably love it and could pontificate about the perfection of every metaphor, archetype and myth reference. This is a “writerly” script, which begs to be read. The words might be perfect on paper, but they become just sound on the stage. It was like listening to someone speak a language you don’t speak fluently, so that all you do is recognise the phrases and words that you understand, but you struggle to put them into context.

I kept trying to bring myself back to the script and the words (after all, I am rather fond of words and people who put them together well) but I kept getting lost. I didn’t mind being lost, as it was delightful to just watch – and I was vividly taken back to being a four-years-old and watching my teddy bear in the giant spin dryer at the laundromat – but I was felt like I was missing the essence of what was going on.

Writers, directors and all creators can never see their own work with the innocence and freshness of new eyes. It’s hard to see that other people have no idea what we are trying to say when it’s so clear in our heads. But maybe the enjoyment of Care Instructions isn’t in the understanding; perhaps we’re just meant to enjoy it.

This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

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