Tag: Sophie Ross

Malthouse Theatre Presents REVOLT. SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN.

Tear down the wor(l)d

By Leeor Adar

Alice Birch’s Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. directed by Janice Muller is a perpetual play on words, and a play on what those words mean to us. It isn’t just a revolution within our society, but a collective ‘revolt’ at our own bodies, and at the male gaze for which women squirm under. Yes, it’s a raging, raging work. It probably needs to rage, because what Birch tells us is nothing new to a woman’s struggle within the constraints of her world, the sharp lines that fix her within it – whether that is her workplace, her lover’s place, her child’s place – or any place in which she exists.

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again..jpg

Birch’s text takes us to many dimensions of existence – at first it’s the constructed box that sits on the stage, vignettes of conversations that throw sex, marriage and work upon its head – women asking to be utterly present in the acts society inflicts upon them. Marg Horwell’s set design is effective here, the sound even strains within the ‘four’ walls created. Soon enough, this world revolts upon itself and a woman (Sophie Ross) climbs out of the four walls to really talk about the things we don’t talk about – about the damage women inflict upon our bodies, in a beautiful and hideous memorandum of all our physical evils – to be endlessly sexually available.

For all the seriousness of the work, the audience laughs with tears in their eyes at some scenes, and sometimes we flinched away – we couldn’t look upon what was before us. I sat behind male audience members who I confess I enjoyed watching too throughout the piece; in context, I admit I was morbidly fascinated at how they would react. Of course they laughed when it was appropriate, and sometimes when it was totally inappropriate, because on some level it was surely uncomfortable for male viewers to see a woman getting angry or opening her body up with Birch’s visceral words – but I can tell you that looking around the room at the women was an different story. Many moments of the play were a bitter reminder, unravelling us at the seams.

The cast is five-strong (Belinda McClory, Elizabeth Esguerra, Ming-Zhu Hii, Gareth Reeves, and Ross). Each actor delivered their parts with total abandonment and intensity – it is an absolutely demanding show to watch, but also to act. The words are hard, and they’re almost too funny and also too damn real. You know Birch is onto something good when you physically react to the words.

For all its power, the total breakdown of the world presented to us loses shape as characters throw costumes on, haphazardly run about, throw themselves on stage, shake, spit, shiver, deliver – it ceases to be a functional whole. Oddly enough, the work held its power until the final dimension and then disintegrated. Was it meant to show us how bad we really had it – apocalypse femme? I can’t say. But sometimes in an effort to rattle its audience, the hyper-modern piece loses us.

Did it change my outrage, or the message? No. Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. remains a daring exercise to deconstruct everything that shapes womanhood in a violent world.

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. will be performed at the Malthouse Theatre until 9 July. Performance dates, times and bookings available here: http://malthousetheatre.com.au/whats-on/revolt-she-said-revolt-again

Image by Pia Johnson

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REVIEW: MTC Presents COCK

Disappointingly flaccid

By Ross Larkin

Cock by Mike Bartlett is essentially about an egocentric, painfully nervous and confused young man named John, who ‘must’ decide whether he is gay, straight or bisexual, and more importantly whether he will choose his male partner of seven years, or a new woman who has caught his attention. Staged in one small room on a floor of wall-to-wall cushions, this production is a dialogue-driven piece directed by MTC’s associate director, Leticia Caceres.

Cock

Primarily a three-hander between John (Tom Conroy) and his two love interests (who are never referred to by name, presumably to emphasise John’s self-absorbed world), Cock is perhaps so-called to describe John in nature, and not solely in reference to the play’s sexual explorations.

In fact, the character of John, who keeps his admirers (played by Angus Grant and Sophie Ross) dangling like puppets while he agonises over what he wants, who he is and who he will choose, is so excruciatingly frustrating and unlikeable that ‘who cares?’ might seem the more apt question.This subsequently begs the question of how plausible it is then that two intelligent, attractive and grounded people would loathe themselves so fully they allow such a dithering idiot to toy with their emotions so blatantly.

This is milked to the point of the three meeting for dinner to discuss (read, ‘bitch about’) who deserves John most, who is better suited and ultimately, who will win him over. All the while a bumbling mess, John has the audacity to believe he is worthy of such idolisation, and that the situation he has created is by no means ridiculous, unfair or narcissistic.

Yet, he also has no qualms about taking Cock’s 100-minute duration to decide as the story goes back and forth ad nauseam, with the all-too-occasional laugh, and the incredulous trivialisation of sexuality which is not only insulting to women, but also bisexuals. Thankfully, Sophie Ross’s portrayal of John’s female counterpart is understated, beautiful and perhaps the only likeable character, who might put you in mind of an Aussie Jennifer Lawrence. Likewise, talented songstress Missy Higgins has provided some beautifully haunting music played throughout the odd interlude: however it simply doesn’t belong.

Unfortunately Cock isn’t dark and beautiful: it’s irritating and shallow, bitchy and clichéd and the same point has never been drilled home more than it is with the disappointing Cock.

Cock is playing now at the Arts Centre, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, until March 22, 2014 at 8pm with some 4pm Saturday matinees and a 6.30pm performance on Tuesday March 4. For more information or to book tickets go to www. artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on or phone 1300 182 1831300 182 1831300 182 1831300 182 183.