20 October 2017

MELBOURNE FESTIVAL: Caravan

MELBOURNE FESTIVAL 2017
Caravan
Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne Festival
14 October 2017
Malthouse Forecourt
to 22 October
www.festival.melbourne/2017

Susie Dee & Nicci Wilks. Photo by Tim Grey

Caravan is ready to hitch itself to the nearest tow-bar and visit festivals around the world, but it's not worth waiting to see if it finds a park at the Malthouse again.

Judy (Susie Dee) and her daughter Donna (Nicci Wilks) live in a caravan. They've stayed in places with views of power lines and bins but home is home and there's hope for 30-something Donna to get an ending that's happier than the ones she gives her Tinder dates. And hope for an ending that isn't her being as happy as Judy is – Judy sees the positive – about spending her last night on earth (again) in the same caravan.

With a bitterly dark humour and fearlessly hilarious performances, their clownish extremes are initially very easy to watch, but clowns are holders of truth. The mother–daughter relationship becomes more uncomfortable – and personal – as it explores the complications of assumed love. There's always love, and the expectation of love, but competitiveness and resentment can distort love and leave it unrecognisable, even when it's as tender as the liver Donna fries up for dinner or as obvious as the enlarged liver that Judy is so very proud of.

Written by Angus Cerini, Patricia Cornelius, Wayne Macauley and Melissa Reeves – srsly, what a team – and co-created by Dee and Wilks, it's development began with four scripts about body organs in a caravan in a Collingwood carpark – when it was 40 degrees.

Outside in the Malthouse Forecourt, it's still October-chilly at night but op shop blankets ensure that the audience are cosy while looking into the too-cosy-for-comfort van.

Their new view of Melbourne still feels like the outer suburbs in the new van that's been re-fitted and designed by Marg Horwell. Starting with a 1970s orange bedspread that's so loud it might start a new retro bedspread trend, every original fitting is filled with details from medications to toy horses, and secrets are hidden in every storage nook and cranny.

While the individual contributions are felt, none outshine the other and create a consistent voice that's been developed by years of artistic collaboration and friendship. Book a blankie now because some of the last shows have booked out.

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