MKA Pop Up Theatre, North Melbourne
to 23 June
I saw a lot of theatre last week, but there was only one show that left me excited about theatre. And there's still time to see it!
What haven't I said about MKA? They consistently show new writing that makes me fall in love with plays all over again and they make it with creators I've rarely heard of, but will make sure that I see again.
Tuesday is an experience. This season's pop-up space is in North Melbourne. There was the Salvo's office in Windsor and the old Steiner School in Abbotsfod, and now it's an old North Melbourne warehouse; if you get lost, look for the people with LED lights. I hope they never find a permanent home because it's so much more fun creating theatre in places where theatre was never meant to be.
Their Winter 2012 season opens with four people telling us about their trip to the supermarket on Tuesday special price day. Never say that you need an complex premise to write an incredible story. There's a man (Zak Zavod) who sees a patch of blue on his ceiling and buys a tracksuit at the supermarket because he's never done so before, a woman (Jenny Seedsman) who buys peaches in jars for her husband who doesn't like peaches and knows how she'd act if she were anyone else, the supermarket manager (James Deeth) who redesigns an employee of the month certificate and tells us that his wife feels like a complete stranger when he's inside her, and a schoolgirl (Brigid Gallacher, The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet) who waves at security cameras to get any attention and makes us wish we were brave enough to shake the Coke bottles on the shelf.
Louris Van De Geer's script was developed by MKA through MKA@MTC and through Theatre Works. This kind of development support by funded companies is what's going to help create more incredible scripts by emerging writers.
And Tuesday is an incredible script. With images like swinging signs in an aisle, missing spice packets and a pyramid of tuna tins with an inflatable fish, she creates a vivid world that's beautiful in its suburban dullness. Its four monologues build the story without directly interacting. All they do is tell us about their trip to the shops, but its painful joy comes from a subtext that tells us so much about these compulsive and broken people. This builds an almost unbearable tension because we know something has to happen, but we have no idea what or when or who. When it does, it forces a re-read of the whole night and a search to remember the clues.
But great scripts need equally great creatives. There's a design (Eugyeene Teh) that makes old warehouse offices feel like they were built for this play; lighting (Rob Sowinski) that builds as much tension as the script; direction (Brienna Macnish) that captures the tone and pace of the script perfectly, possibly better than the writer could imagine; and a cast who make it feel like it was written just for them.
I think this is the most exciting piece of theatre I've seen this year. This company create with the kind of passion that doesn't listen to naysayers and cynics. They believe that theatre is art and that art should wake up our brains and our hearts. Or it could just be because I really like going to the supermarket.
Photo by Sarah Walker
This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com