A beautiful tale of a terrible man
By Adam Tonking
Ad Nauseam, created by Tom Pitts and performed by Nick Bendall with Kate Laverack and Grace Travaglia, is the story of one rather unlikeable man and the drunken destructive path he cuts through one night in the city. But the story itself is only the beginning of this wonderful production.
Pitts’ text, one long rant, is almost poetic, reminiscent of those long-dead beat poets Kerouac and Ginsberg and through Pitts’ treatment of the language, transforms a gritty loathsome bender into something romantic and poignant.
His despicable narrator seems lost and forlorn, even while his actions paint him as an arrogant pig, somehow you want to be the one to save him. I did find the insertion of a few topical one-liners jarring and unnecessary, however they did receive the biggest laughs of the night. The text is performed in counterpoint with a score also composed by Pitt, and the interaction between the two beautifully underpins the ebb and flow of the piece.
Playing the part of this narrator, Bendall brings a rascally quality to the character’s unpleasant tendencies, charming the audience with his antics as opposed to repelling us. His physicality in performing this piece was a work of art, like mime bordering on dance, depicting the world and the people he interacts with through mere controlled movements and poses of his constantly working body, from delicate and beautiful to aggressive and masculine. Fascinating to watch.
Haunting him throughout the piece are the spectres of the two women who started him on this downward spiral, played by Laverack and Travaglia, who never speak a word, but manage to convey everything they need to through the movement of their bodies.
Ad Nauseam is a masterful work, using poetry, mime, dance, music, lighting – all the elements available to create a phenomenal, tragic and romantic piece. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
This production is showing at La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street Carlton, from Wednesday 21 March till Sunday 1 April, 6.30pm Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, 8.30pm Thursday and Saturday. Book at www.lamama.com.au or by calling 03 9347 6142.