09 July 2019

Review: THE CABIN!

Darebin Arts Speakeasy
5 July 2019
Northcote Town Hall
to 13 July

THE CABIN! Photo by Bryony Jackson

THE CABIN! is horror show written by kids for adults. Over 200 school-age students contributed to through workshops and residency programs in the UK and Australia. Most were children from areas that don't have easy access to arts experiences.

Their work and ideas were brought together by lead artist JOF (Joseph O'Farrell), co-devisor Emily Tomlins and director Sarah Austin. It's performed by JOF and Emily with the support of group of local students and teenage guitarist Mariela Barajas Anderson.

Jof and monsters. THE CABIN! Photo by Bryony Jackson

Since his early days in Melbourne with The Suitcase Royale – who remain one of my all-time favourite groups –, JOF has created, co-created and curated theatre and events (jofmakesart.com) that break down the artifice of theatre and find new ways to connect with audiences. He says that the question he always asks is"Who's not here?". It's not just who's not in the audience, but who's not having the experience of making the art. JOF is especially awesome at helping and letting children make art.

This work was created by children for adults; it isn't for under 10s. The script, story, designs and staging ideas all came from the children; the older people just put them together.

It begins with JOF in a purple suit as one of those ridiculous adults who think they can make theatre for kids but who just want to be a star themselves and Emily as the person in charge of the safety of the venue: two of the most-hated people in all of theatre. But one of them has a secret. And don't forget that this is a horror show.

There's a delight in being scared in a safe place; it's why we watch scary movies and go on roller coasters. THE CABIN! has all the delight while still looking at how genuine fear is so often dismissed. If a child is scared, take notice.

And, like some of the best horror, it's very funny – especially when the kids totally nail the adults.

Mariela Barajas Anderson. THE CABIN! Photo by Bryony Jackson

There's also band called Bumsnogger, some super-wanky theatre jokes – people next to me had no idea why I thought sitting in a bench and singing numbers for Frankenstein on the Beach was so hilarious –, monster heads made from cereal boxes, blood, unseen hoards of zombies, hands in the dark, and a magnificent post-apocalyptic-style finale.

More of this kind of work, please. Lots more.

THE CABIN! Photo by Bryony Jackson

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