Red Stitch Actors Thearte
11 June 2011
to 2 July
According to the director's notes, "Plot, character and any other category we might expect from plays that celebrate the uncontested integrity of a subject based on free will, are long gone." So, if you like plays without plot, character and any other category we might expect from plays, then get to Red Stitch for Princess Dramas. But don't you dare scoff if others use their free will to disappear at interval because they crave conflict and drama and story.
German writer Elfriede Jelinek won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004 for her "musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that, with extraordinary linguistic zeal, reveal the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power." (Thank you Wikipedia.) Her writing is complex and actively tries to disorient the listener with a seemingly unending barrage. I heard some fascinating observations, but it's such a wall of noise.
Peter Mumford's design and Olga Makeeva's costumes add welcome distraction and humour; when isn't a giant stuffed vagina funny? Andre Bastian's direction understands the work like no watcher ever can and actively injects lightness and absurdity to the idea-heavy text. It's a hoot to see Red Stitch favourites Dion Mills as Snow White and Andrea Swifte as Sleeping Beauty, and guest actor Melodie Reynolds performance as Jacqui O is memorable and as compelling as this work could ever be.
For all its admirable bits, including a thigh slapping funny ending, I have no idea who this show was speaking to. The first question any writer asks is "who is your audience?". The first feedback most writers get is the same. One of the reasons the MTC is full every night is because they know exactly who they are speaking to (I know it isn't me). I felt like this show wanted me to admire its smartness, rather than being something I'm meant to take into my heart and enjoy.
There are libraries full of astonishingly intelligent books that are never read, film festivals are programmed with super-clever films that are never seen, and there must be thousands of unread uber-smart-ass blogs. Intelligent doesn't mean engaging or moving or interesting.
The third part of Princess Dramas has some jokes about women coming on their own. I hope they were masturbation jokes, but it was hard to tell. Regardless, I'm going with the theme. Masturbation is no doubt one of the great pleasures in life, but no matter how good it feels and how technically proficient the masturbator is, is it interesting to any one else? This is the kind of show that reminds me why some people don't like theatre and why some shows are called wank.