Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Alleyway Project - a tasty review.

For an intro to this show, read my previous post about The Alleyway Project. 
Photos mostly by Lynette Letic.
Errbody from the show. :)
If I needed just a handful of words to (a) describe this show, and (b) give you something to hook you in to reading the rest of this review, then I would probably use the following:

'vulgar' 'funny' 'alarming' 'dark' 'young' and 'chalk'. 

If I had paid for a ticket, I would have said 'yes, good sir, that was worth my money!' Especially seeing as how there were sacks of goon hanging from cords attached to power lines. Fan-fucking-tastic. 
Milk crates were present as promised - tick. 
It was in Winn Lane and when I walked in they were playing that whistling song about young folks, so it's hipster as hell - tick. 
Everything performed that evening stung like a rapier to the gut of our sick youth culture - big goddamn tick.
If you brought your parents along, then I'm truly sorry. I really liked seeing Genevieve Butler and Dan Eady puke on each other before and after having sex in an alleyway, but the middle-aged couple beside me looked so alarmed I thought they might start clutching their chests where their hearts are and fall backwards tumbling down the stairs. Oh yeah, about stairs, we were sitting on them! Yes, sitting on stairs, and it was super great. Very clever too because of the whole levelled-seats-so-everyone-can-see thing. I think The Alleyway Project could be the pin-up-girl for the Anywhere Festival, really. These kids embodied what it's all about - the interplay between location and content. (Snapped the pics below on my iPhone, click them to enlarge and have a look at how Winn Lane turned into a theatre.)

The actual show was a combination of 4 separate pieces which transitioned seamlessly. Simple lighting was really effective and minimal use of recorded sound was so effective I actually thought those sirens were real ambulances in the Valley and that the actors were kind of ad-libbing with their gritty surroundings. Impressive. 

I think the nature of this show (and location) rendered itself more suitable to the group scenes rather than the monologue-type performances. Benjamin Jackson had a bit of a tough time opening the show and bringing the audience together from their splintered, chatting, pre-show groups. It was very break-the-fourth-wall stuff, which has never been a favourite theatre mode of mine, but it worked alright and others in the crowd seemed to respond well to their involvement. I didn't see the twist coming either, and the dude  definitely had enough energy to pull off that length of stage time. 
Michael Johnson gave an impressive performance as Dale. I'll be honest and say that at the start I thought he was being a little melodramatic, but as the piece went on I found his style fitting for the scene and I've got to admit that calling chicks in high heels "praying mantis'" was lol. The script here was really quite poetic. Some beautiful imagery mixed with real melancholic d+m type stuff. OH - and he made some sick joke about smegma AND THE OLD PEOPLE WERE SITTING BESIDE ME AND WATCHING THEIR FACES WAS PRICELESS. Those poor people just couldn't handle it. Such alarm, such concern. His faux-vomit was also very realistic - kudos for that. Karen Dinsdale was next, in a very short monologue about the boy who spoke about her/before her. Her performance as Wren was great (she did the manic-pixie-dreamgirl extremely well) but I just felt some awkwardness about whether or not the piece was really necessary. The subtlety about the boy's overdose and death was nice, and his piece so poetic, and the audience were hanging on his words and everything was going so well. From a script-writing perspective it was a bit stilted. 
Next came Caitlin Dooley, Lucy Whyte, and Athalia Foo in a horrific and scathing portrayal of private school bitches. I mean seriously, this thing was like Mean  Girls on cocaine and speed and Vitamin Water all at the same time. I think I was predisposed to like this piece more, as a survivor of a private girls' school I have endless patience for people paying out over-privileged under-brained nasty people. And boy, were these chicks rough. A truly hilarious dance number was followed by bullying so heinous it was the Samuel L Jackson of comedy (and by that, I mean it couldn't have gotten any blacker). The climax of this piece  came right after one girl made the other girl lick bin-juice off of her phone. Following that, the first girl forced the second one to skull a carton of pre-mix, then when she couldn't do it, made her sit down and pour it all over her. THEN we find out that the second girl had slept with the first girl's dad (twice!) and when the first girl uploads the video of the sex the go viral she says "...earrings are one thing, but this is truly the best gift anyone's ever given me." Because we all know that being the one girl who totally ruins the other girl gets you, like, a billion upgrade-you-status-at-school points. In the meantime of all this happening, the Asian exchange student is having an epileptic fit (frighteningly good performance). The parents wished they didn't believe this shit. 
Lastly, the previously-mentioned Genevieve and Dan throwing up all over the place. Don't make the mistake of thinking it was some kind of dry-wretch either. This shit was full-blown, all-out, chunks-and-stinky vom. It was a well written script and teetered perfectly on the line between hilarity and vulgarity, occasionally crossing over on each side. Especially amusing, was her realisation that he didn't have any ecstasy for her, but instead had eczema on his crotch. I simple misunderstanding - happens to the best of us. Also amusing is when she asks for a handkerchief to remove some of the spew from up in her dress, and he replies "hankies are fucking disgusting". I'm serious guys, there was actual vomit everywhere. 
I suppose a certain kind of person would LOVE this show (read: me), and then other kinds of peoplewould have really truly not liked it at all (read: those parents are still having nightmares). For example, I really like swearing, and there was a lot of foul language. I mean, my favourite thing about it was that it was so brutally accurate. Exaggerated, yes, but still a painfully insightful judgment of our drinking and fucking culture at the moment. I think you should be sad you missed it. 

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