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You shouldn’t expect meaning from those paid to fake it

by Sayraphim on December 22, 2008

There’s a review online for the show This Is Set In The Future at AussieTheatre.com. It seems a little conflicted, glowing at the start and not so keen at the end, which is a little weird, but still its a good review…

This is set in the future a traditional Christmas tale of blood, cum and karma, complete with a Pseudo Santa resplendent in a tight frock contemplating an even tighter noose. The publicity did say it was more festy than festive…

Glyn Roberts’s not-so-cheery tale explores the not-too-distant future where we could live forever. Will folk get up to acts of selfless good and create heartfelt joy? Not with Robert Reid directing.

As always, director Reid (theatre in decay) hides his hope behind a large wall of cynicism. He despairs in his program notes that Melbourne theatre has “gotten ever so samey”. Melbourne’s independent theatre would be a duller place without Reid and I’m not alone in my gladness that he is determined to produce original work.

With Sayraphim Lothian’s spot-on design and a cast of competitive alphas (Scott Gooding, Rachel Baring, Hayley Butcher, Joshua Cameron and writer Glyn Roberts), Reid guides the delightfully-dark script into a place where even the Christmas-cracker jokes would need a PGR rating.

There’s not much left in this future world beyond “fuck or punch”. It sets out to shock and this is where I think it just missed the mark. There were some moments where it could have gone somewhere very nasty and interesting, or somewhere even more outrageously, hilariously obscene – but I felt that the brakes were applied and what could have been jaw-dropping black was simply taken back to joke. They were good jokes, but didn’t have the expected effect.

It might have just been final night excitement, but the cast were enjoying the fun a little bit too much. The impact of having the crap beaten out of you is dulled if the actors make it clear that it’s meant to be funny. There’s no shock in “incest is the new gay” if it’s being said to create a nervous audience titter. The comic book style of performance was perfect for the script, but we needed to see more of the fascinating characters, rather than the terrific actors, because the telling of their story was lost. We were watching to see what the performers would do next, rather than what would happen next.

Reid declares that we shouldn’t “expect meaning from people paid to fake it”. It was clear that everyone involved in This is set in the future understood every nuance of meaning, but they could have shared their meaning just a little bit more with the audience.

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