26 September 2009

A Black Joy

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2009
A Black Joy

24 September 2009
fortyfivedownstairs


A Black Joy is very funny, very dark and may be the gayest* thing Declan Greene has written. As all fellow-lovers of Greene's high-camp-punk shockers know, that's saying something!

While A Black Joy's original characters grab our addiction to pop culture by the toes and dangle it out of a hotel window over a pool of snapping crocodiles and paparazzi, it is more disturbing and much nastier than his Sisters Gimm work and reveals a maturity and understanding that is going to make an indelible mark on theatrical writing of the 2010s.

 With 200 kg, bed-ridden John Candy (Tom Considine) central on the stage, we are drawn into a world desperate for love, but replacing it with celebrity, control, fear and violence. Dakota Fanning (Miriam Glaser) cannot recover from losing her fame as a childhood leukemia suffer; Bette Davis (Carole Patullo) can't support her daughter, but fries John Candy's bread in butter; Diane Keating (Anne Browning) strengthens up to fight her lesbian cleaner; Joseph Cotton (Chris Bunworth) save the whales to hide his love of torture; Megan Twycross's character makes us feel for the Parises and Britneys we love to hate, and Corey Haim (Ash Flanders) finds real love at a Nazi rally at a supermarket. And, until now, I never knew how much I'd wanted to see Ash as a teenage virgin neo-Nazi with a Texta’d tattoo.

With such potential to tip over the edge of taste, reason and sense, the perfect cast never let their overdone, over-the-top characters be anything less than human, and director Susie Dee deftly controls the mood from outrageous hilarity to a gritty dark climax that unexpectedly grabs you so deep in your guts that the only release is uncomfortable laughter.

A Black Joy isn’t comfortable (boring) theatre. Like a brand new pair of six-inch-heel, patent leather, knee high boots, it hurts so much that your toes bleed – but looks so amazing and makes you feel so fine that nothing will make you even glance at your comfortable flat maryjanes. See this show.


*Before the hate mail begins and we drown in a discussion about semiotics, linguistics, offensive language and the true definition of g-a-y, just go and see this play and you'll understand exactly what Dec meant when he wrote it and what I mean when I quote it. Yes, it's still a controversial combination of letters; in fact, I think gay is the new cunt. As cunt is bandied about with gay abandon in our festival shows and dinner parties, the language-Nazis (I wonder if I can join) have grabbed gay by the balls because they don't like how its cultural meaning continues to change. But let's leave the worthy discussion for another day.

More 2009 Fringe reviews.

This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

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