Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Reasons To Be Pretty, Review

Reasons To Be Pretty

By Neil Labute

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

Local on-again-off-again theatre company Mellow Yellow are on again, with their Fringe offering Reasons To Be Pretty by American scribe Neil Labute. But don't dally about – it's a short season with only a few days still to run.

Mr Labute is responsible for some pretty powerful scripts for screen and stage, usually pulling apart relationships and poking at the soft, sensitive innards of gender politics. Black comedy is his thing, and he's a writer with such an unflinching eye and ear for what makes us tick that he can make you squirm as easily as he can make you laugh.

Reasons To Be Pretty looks at our obsession with our appearance. It might not be yours or mine, but it is society's obsession. (Equally, it might well be yours and mine, or someone you know).

The play follows the relationships of four friends/workmates/partners - Steph (Steph Lee), her boyfriend Greg (Jason Schwab), Greg's workmate Kent (Sam Burns-Warr) and his girlfriend and co-worker Carly (Dayna Boase). As well as obsession with appearance, the play also examines loyalty, integrity and what binds us in relationships and friendships, and what can cause divisions.

The play starts with a pretty comical fight after Steph confronts Greg over a perceived insult. She heard that he said something less than flattering about her physical appearance, and she is livid. It's kind of comically over-the-top, yet I'm sure we can all relate; we've all be involved in arguments that mean everything at the time but seem ridiculous after the event.

That Steph takes what Greg said so much to heart seems a little unrealistic... yet this is exactly how arguments and disagreements can unfold in what can quickly become the domestic battlefield. The staging of this scene is inventive, utilising the quirkiness of the space in The Wilde to create a voyeuristic feel, as though we are overhearing a neighbour's domestic screaming match.

Greg and Kent seem thrown together rather than being real friends. Again, this often the case in the workplace. You don't have any choice in who you work with so you make the most of it. They are very different people, Greg quiet with hints of intelligence in his reading material (this could be read as affectation) and Kent being a very similar character to the one he played in this very space last year in David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago. That is, a pretty callous, superficial Typical Macho Guy. I really want to see Burns-Warr play a different role because he does this one so well you could almost believe that he's like this in real life. He does bastard really, really well. Chappeau.

Dayna Boase as Kent's girlfriend does a good job of playing a complex character – physically beautiful (just check that sexy smirk on the poster for the show), you expect confidence, but vulnerability is just under the surface, with manipulation also not out of range.

This is not feel good theatre. It is engaging and sometimes funny, generally a little sad in the way that we and our weird little ways of dealing with each other can be sad. It is also highly recommended.

Reasons To Be Pretty is on at The Wilde, 153 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy until October 4.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A String Of Memories. (Luckiest Fucker There Ever Was)

Big night. It was a big night. Daylight now and a headful of crashing thoughts that are either dreams or memories. What actually happened? That girl with the eyebrows, that conversation, that thing that was so fascinating, that bit when you found your stride and your talk caused hilarity... was it real or creations of the dream engine?

Luxurious stretch. A groan of pleasure and relief. Dodged a bullet. There will be no hangover today, just more of the same. It's almost lunchtime, almost booze time, almost time to start the ride all over again. More talk and more laughter because it's all so short and carp diem, motherfuckers.

You're in the second bedroom again. Starfishing it in your own bed, this pillow the best fucking pillow in forever.

Your eyes hummingbird open and you see a string of memories droop-hanging on the wall. There is Santorini and Andalucia and Ann and Annye. There is Gaudi and The Acropolis
, Vesuvius and Via del Amore with its locks of love and promises so pure. There's a golden tunnel in an almost forgotten Italian coastal town (was this where Gore Vidal lived?) where you once saw an A-list Hollywood actor. There is a dance festival called Boom where you've danced and swum naked and laughed with friends. Twice. And you could make it three times, maybe more before you die.

And back to those blues and whites of Santorini and that sunset that seems impossible. Your lover next door. She who made this string of memories, and hung them drooping on the wall.

The barbarians are bearing down, but right now in these slow trickling moments, you know you have seen amazing things and have a string of memories that no one can take away.

And you know you are the luckiest fucker there ever was.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Game Of Human

I think the beings playing the game Human Fuckwittery have recently taken the game to a new level. It's like... create an intelligent species... separate them by land and sea... give some poor lands and others rich lands... introduce religion... introduce another religion... make these religions conflict... bring in racism and sexism and then oh how great is this we fuck them up with politics... invent media... give the media power... destroy traditional media and replace it with social media because we have the technology... make envy a major thing... give technology and social media to the backwaters of civilisation who prey on the hopeless and the bitter and the confused who in reality simply want to feel a part of something... give these humans idiot rulers making idiot decisions that condemn the rest of them to a bleak future... let loose the maniacs and the conspiracy theorists who believe in nothing and everything and who will continue to do nothing but question and question whilst wrapped in their smug stupidity that does nothing enlighten or protect.
These beings playing the game of Human Fuckwittery, they must be having a great laugh right now.

Monday, September 22, 2014

LAX by Alyx

One of our workers sings and makes music. This is one of her songs. I think it is gorgeous. She is lovely and very funny, and today we had a lengthy discussion about the individuality of sneezing, and it was very funny.

Greatest thing ever is to have a good laugh while you are work. It brings everything back into perspective. I feel very lucky to have bumped into this particular human.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Grand Budapest Hotel

Finally saw this last night. What a wonderful movie. Am looking forward to watching it again. Such good storytelling, so many talented actors having fun with their roles, such overall excellent film making.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Happy Father's Day

Apparently it was Father's Day today.  Meh.

Friday, September 05, 2014

A Tip: Treat Good People Well

One of the reasons The Dreaded One and I started our own cafe was because we both had terrible experiences at roughly the same time of working for awful employers. We're hard workers, it's just how we roll. And we were treated like shit and taken for granted. At roughly the same time, we both said enough, and quit.

We both decided that if we were working this hard, we should be doing it for ourselves. That way, we can choose the people we work with, choose the music we want to listen to while we work, and we can do nice things for the people who choose to work for us, like having the decency to give them the tips they have earned.

We are now still working hard. We're very much hands-on. It's a bit of a struggle. Who knows what's going to happen.

But you get these little, lovely moments, these small gestures that mean a lot to you. You get good customer feedback. You get the random positive online review. You enjoy a lengthy conversation with someone who has chosen to work for you, and they're talking and you find yourself thinking I'm really glad I met you. You're pretty fucking cool. Whatever happens in the future, right now I like you a lot.

And if you're really lucky, these employees you quite like will describe you as pals, and will want to hang out and have drinks with you after work hours.

And they will bring this up with you prior to you giving them the previous couple of months' tips.

I think we're getting some of this thing right.