By Caitlin McGrane
Where to even begin with this one? My best friend and I have this long-running joke where we text each other photos of slightly out-of-place objects, like an abandoned sock on the ground or a lonely piece of graffiti on a wall, alongside the caption, ‘but is it art?’ I’m not sure quite how this started but it never fails to make me laugh. And this week while I watched Wild Bore at The Malthouse I was reminded of this joke because it seemed as though the creative minds behind this project may have been in on it as well.
The production starts with bottoms. Gloriously unfiltered female derrières proudly presented to a somewhat bemused audience. This is a show about answering your critics (or is it?) and the opening (pun 100% intended) sets the tone from the start – this is going to be fun and deeply bonkers. Zoë Coombs-Marr, Ursula Martinez and Adrienne Trustcott led us up and down on a wild, wild ride. The show is extremely visual, with most of the show a long-running graphic joke about sticking stuff up your bum. It also features probably the most wonderful and well-executed knob gag I’ve ever seen. It was amazing. I loved it.
After years of writing about film and theatre, wanting to tear my eyes out with rage and disappointment at yet another ‘sad heterosexual white boy’ play about a moody woman who just. won’t. love. him, I was practically punching the air with joy at the end of Wild Bore. I can’t count the number of times I’ve wanted to stand up in a theatre and scream ‘WHERE ARE THE WOMEN?’ and this show seemed like the perfect, jaw-achingly funny reply to this question, which is that we’re here, and we’re not fucking going anywhere.
Happily, the show didn’t feel like it had a paucity of representational identity politics, Coombs-Marr, Martinez and Trustcott spoke for themselves, on their own terms and with their own real voices. They were joined all too briefly by Krishna Istha who lit up the stage with their dazzling consciousness-raising speech demanding better treatment and representation of people of colour, trans and gender non-conforming people in the arts. I was utterly blown away by this show and am beyond thrilled to see Coombs-Marr, Istha, Martinez and Trustcott setting the bar so high for truly interesting theatre.
The show was well-supported by set and costume design from Danielle Brustman (I want a pair of those bum-less trousers to use in reply whenever men tell me to smile), sound design from Raya Slavin and lighting design from Richard Vebre truly helped sustain the laughter, while stage manager Harriet Gregory made some excellent deliberate dramaturgical decisions.
This show deserves support not just because it includes better gross-out humour than Bridesmaids but also because it makes no apologies for doing exactly what you’re ‘not supposed to do’; by answering and gently mocking critics, the performers allow us to see how ludicrously seriously we sometimes take ourselves, including the impossibly high standards we set for performers, especially women. Tearing down expectations is not the same as tearing down critics, and this show demonstrated how wonderful that can be.
Wild Bore is now showing at The Malthouse until 4 June. Tickets and more information: http://malthousetheatre.com.au/whats-on/wild-bore
Image by Tim Grey Photography