MKA THEATRE: Melbourne playwright Louris van de Geer explores the claustrophobia and inanity of modern mass consumption in this finely written and strongly performed production.
Independent pop-up theatre MKA present their most recent work, Tuesday
, as part of their current winter season. Written by emerging Melbourne playwright Louris van de Geer, Tuesday
is performed in the offices of an old knitting factory in North Melbourne; a very happy marriage of venue and production. Four characters, isolated and troubled beings, variously lurching or limping through life, become witnesses to each other’s disintegration in a local supermarket. Each character is in their own version of supermarket hell, with all the claustrophobia and gruesome inanity that implies.
A sense of distance and drama is created by set design (by Eugyeene Teh) along with a sense of the bleak, fluoro-lit windowless artificiality of a supermarket, achieved with few props. The characters are behind large glass doors to begin with and come out one at a time to deliver monologues.
The production takes as much opportunity as possible to engage in visual metaphor, for example rows of modified identical plastic milk bottles doing duty as grim ‘goods’ for sale, occupying different levels, parodying the illusion of choice; the lighting becomes increasingly random as the story builds up to its crescendo. The old office space of the set is employed to provide a sense of ‘behind closed doors’ as well as its opposite, a ‘fishbowl’ lack of privacy. The dehumanizing aspect of supermarket ‘culture’ for both employees and shoppers is skillfully played up in design and narrative; the story itself being perfectly placed and set up.
It is a risky strategy, forming a play around separate speeches, but because the pacing is generally so tight and the writing and characterisation so compelling, it works. Direction by Brienna Macnish ensures that credibility is not compromised, despite the characters being so idiosyncratic and damaged. The denouement, however, is victim of its own ghastly inevitability: we know one of the characters is going to suffer some sort of psychotic episode; we just don’t know which one.
The detail in the writing is superb. The story is cleverly played out with moments of humour and the acting is convincing and strong, with a special mention going to Brigid Gallacher’s schoolgirl. Tuesday is a fine piece, ironic in parts and telling of lives rendered bereft by the ugliness of a mass consumption seemingly impossible to avoid.
Rating: 3 ½ stars out of 5
MKA Theatre of New Writing presents
By Louris van de Geer
Director: Brienna Macnish
Producer: Glyn Roberts
Visual Designer: Eugyeene Teh
Costume Designer: Kat Chan
Lighting Designer: Rob Sowinski
Sound Designer: Robert Jordan
Cast: Zak Zavod, Jenny Seedsman, Brigid Gallacher and James Deeth
MKA North Melbourne, 64 Sutton St, Nth Melbourne
June 6 – 23