Saturday, October 25, 2008

Review: Appetite

Melbourne International Arts Festival
Fairfax Studio Until 25th October

Don't go. Even if you have a ticket. Even if you paid for a ticket, like I did, don't go. Your time is better spent watching babies vomit on youtube
What a total, abject, insulting, embarrassing mess.
Chris Boyd used the Hadron Collider as a metaphor when describing 'Sunstruck'. I would now like to borrow that metaphor and use it to describe 'Appetite', but not in the way that Mr. Boyd has. This is like people's worst fears about the particle accelerator realised. 'Appetite' took various bad, bad  elements: ordinary, ill-thought out dance and movement, really banal, jarring yet fence-sitting original songs, and a terrible, terrible script, and collided them into each other, which caused a black-hole. 
I'm not exaggerating. This was terrible.  
I honestly don't know where to start. I don't think this was a programming issue. It looked good on paper, good enough for me to book a ticket. I don't think it was down to the performers by any means all of whom are good, and two of whom were responsible for one of my favourite performances this year: 'Disagreeable Objects'. I don't know how this could go so far off the rails and deviate so thoroughly. You see, the thing is, it was bad in so many ways. Mueller doesn't strike me as the kind of writer whose words compliment dance or physical theatre, and nor does it pull strongly in the other direction (of course I see it now, in retrospect). I'm not familiar with New Buffalo, but c'mon, this was poor man's Sarah Blasko in 'Little Fish'. The songs were just ordinary, and really seemed to belong to something else. 
But, by god, the direction.
It was amateurish at best. The poor performers having to upstage each other, with such, such puerile slapstick. I felt terribly sorry for each and every performer. Everything was so obviously flagged and emoted, there was absolutely no subtlety. What's happened to Kate Denborough? 'Headlock', that Frank Woodley solo show and now this? Diminishing returns or what? I'm really glad that generally, people are calling this for what it is. I do place the blame upon Kage and Denborough for this. It just was so poorly directed that there wasn't anything redeeming. And c'mon, reading this excuse for writing would be enough for the alarm bells to be ringing. Three disparate and opposing elements working unintentionally against one another shows a lack of vision. It shows a lack of certainty and courage. 
Now, I'm a cook. I love cooking. I love cooking on stage. They had every opportunity to actually cook, they had burners, they had ingredients. There was a promising moment of pop corn, and also of flambe, but is amounted to absolutely nothing. The pinnacle of culinary sensuality was McClements cracking eggs into a bowl, adding oranges, champagne and vodka. It was just stupid. Why not actually cook? This was childish, like something from 'You Can't Do That On Television'.
This was such a disgusting waste of food, time, resources, intelligence, space, festival hours... I could go on. 
And who are these people? There were no characters, just caricatures. I'm so, so, so sick of seeing writing like this. Its like seeing a David Williamson when you're a kid. You sit there and think "Oh, so that's what its like being an adult". But I don't know anyone who lives this life. It didn't come from a truthful place at all. I've never met anyone who fits into that mould. And I used to work in advertising. I've met the bourgeoisie, I've met CUBs, but who were these people? It just made no sense. 
And is Catherine McClements being groomed to be the next Sigrid Thornton or what?
Oh god, it made me angry. I just hope I can remember both Michelle Heaven and Brian Lucas for 'Disagreeable Objects' which was at least one thousand times better. 
Oh god, I just noticed it had a dramaturge. That's ridiculous, what was he doing? 

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