Bali

Nerida Dickinson

Entertaining yet challenging, toxic masculinity goes on a cultural colonialism road trip.
Bali

Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs in The Last Great Hunt's Bali. Picture credit: Daniel James Grant.

Stars of the multiple award winning Fag/Stag return for a new adventure. Best friends Jimmy and Corgan embark on a tropical holiday and another collision of worlds, punctuated by moments of self-discovery.

Despite their long friendship, Jimmy and Corgan haven’t seen much of each other recently – Jimmy busy with work and Corgan constantly focussed on his girlfriend, Sarah. Corgan’s mother, Val, is turning 60, and decides to celebrate her birthday at Ku De Ta in Bali. Corgan invites Jimmy to attend and to spend some time together, possibly because Sarah is busy and can’t go. Jimmy is reluctant but Corgan insists, and a classic Aussie holiday ensues. Corgan is an expert in partying, Bali-style, and their holiday passes in a haze of drinking, clubbing, massages, casual sex, poolside recovery and token cultural experience. Val’s birthday celebrations bring simmering family tensions to a head, but prompt Corgan to examine his own life direction. Hooking up with young and naïve Guy, a holiday fling, inadvertently confronts Jimmy with his personal fears of intimacy and trust.

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With closely-timed lines delivered in unison, shared experiences subjectively described from witheringly contrasting perspectives, evocative dialogue and commentary and barbed irony, Bali is scripted as tightly as it is delivered. Both performers bring self-serving self-perception to their characters. Jeffrey Jay Fowler delivers Jimmy’s self-awareness and habit of introspection, also revealing his casual, callous approach to intimate relationships and the underlying self-doubts and insecurities that drive him to pursue immediate sexual gratification rather than the hard work of longer-term connections. Chris Isaacs delivers a scathing indictment of his character’s self-obsessed world view, inhabiting Corgan’s oblivious detached entitlement with his blank-faced observations and careless physicality.

Lighting Designer Scott McArdle and Sound Designer Nathan Jamieson closely follow the rapidly changing script developments, to accentuate the contrasts within and between scenes. Mindless fun times and frenetic martini bar drinking challenges, Jimmy’s horror at the casual exploitation of women and Corgan’s revelation when a field trip reveals the local poverty perpetuated by tourists chasing a glimpse of paradise, are all boosted by McArdle and Jamieson’s technical delivery.

Isaacs and Fowler pursue strong and challenging themes, but allow room in the script for concept development, cutting observations drawn from life, and sharply contrasting moments of humour, irony and slapstick comedy. Building on the themes of toxic masculinity in Fag/Stag, Fowler and Isaacs consider the conflicting Australian views of the value of Bali as a tourist destination to incorporate musings on personal values, Western entitlement, life goals and the many varieties and qualities of relationships, from the distinct yet mutually sympathetic perspectives of Jimmy and Corgan.

On track to rapidly develop into a 5 star-worthy work, this opening season of Bali is another example of The Last Great Hunt’s ability to create performances that push boundaries while engaging and entertaining audiences.

4 ½ stars out of 5

Bali
Presented by The Last Great Hunt
Written by Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs
Sound Designer Nathan Jamieson
Lighting Designer Scott McArdle
Production Manager Liz Newell
Performed by Chris Isaacs and Jeffrey Jay Fowler

Subiaco Arts Centre, Subiaco
18 – 28 October 2017

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Nerida Dickinson is a writer with an interest in the arts. Previously based in Melbourne and Manchester, she is observing the growth of Perth's arts sector with interest.

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