11 December 2011

Review: The Economist

The Economist
3 December 2011
MKA Pop Up Theatre, Abbotsfod
to 16 December

The channel 10 news and the Herald Scum declared MKA totally out of line for presenting a play about Anders Breivik, the man who killed 92 people in Norway on July 22 this year. Goodness knows we don't want angry youngsters questioning and confronting a world that allows for such depravity. What if a Melbourne hipster was inspired and got a similar idea? On behalf of us with half a brain, I toast a "Fuck You" to news reporters who chase controversy.

Unlike many journos, writer (and MKA Artistic Director) Tobias Manderson-Galvin read Breivik's diaries, manifesto and blog. He braved conservative writings and looked beyond the media image of the lone Aryan nutter. Until I saw The Economist, I passively went along with the terrorist kook theory. What am I saying, I'd forgotten about the attack a week after it happened and couldn't have named Breivik without the help of Google. But I know the name Martin Bryant, and an hour with MKA left me understanding and questioning so much more than any media report had.

The Economist is the fictional story of Andrew Berwick, whose life in Norway is remarkably similar to the other AB. He was a teased teenager who tagged and found steroids and the painless violence of World of Warcraft.  As he got older there was facial plastic surgery, gun clubs and "racist fox hats", misunderstood white pride folk music, sexless sex with prostitutes and a farmhouse filled with the ingredients for explosives. And he wrote and read the likes of John Howard. Yes, our Little Johnny.

Now there is nothing as dull as lefty preachy theatre. Be assured, there's nothing dull about this show and there's no hint of a sermon. Director Van Badham (whose writing I am so going read) subverts expectations starting with Zoey Dawson as Berwick. Clad in hideous beige trousers and red windcheaters, the cast set the uneasy tone and give us permission to laugh at a story that we know ends in unexplainable pain.

It's a complex story but Manderson-Galvin finds the moments that develop the full picture without forcing meaning and lets his audience enjoy the kind of mind fuck that leaves you wobbly and wanting more.

Great news is that the season has been extended.

This review originally appeared on AussieThearte.com