Monday, October 27, 2008

Getting my appetite back, Melbourne Festival diary 2

My wrap of the 2008 Festival is in today's Herald Sun.


Scaife had just one request for her birthday. "Make 'the whore' for me."

She might be a slacker in the kitchen, but she always has great kitchens -- granny kitchens with lots of character -- and is a most appreciative eater. We've both been having an affair with The Whore, my version of spaghetti alla puttanesca.

Now, Scaife's birthday fell in the last week of the festival, so if she wanted The Whore, I told her, she'd have to see a show first. "I've decided I don't like plays," she said, firmly. (Been taken to too many mainstage shows... thank you very much Kay!)

By good fortune, it seemed, her birthday coincided with KAGE's Appetite -- "physical theatre, not a play" I assured her -- coincidentally about a woman having a dinner party and existential crisis on her birthday. It was perfect.

KAGE. A great local company. Never seen anything by them I haven't liked, and I reckon I've seen every single show they've done in Melbourne, from the early days when -- a la Pilobolus -- KAte Denborough and GErard Van Dyck [KA+GE, get it?] would do acrobatic things, silly, magical, dangerous things... with their heads in big pots upside down.

For this particular show, Denborough was wrangling some of the finest dancers you will see (Carlee Mellow and Michelle Heaven head the list) and a brilliant team.

Scaife's also a fan of Sally Seltmann, who trades as New Buffalo. And Seltmann was to play live in Appetite. What could go wrong?

What went wrong has been fairly well documented: here, there and everywhere.

I have to say that the audience clapped appreciatively -- even violently -- after the show. Those that were still awake and/or not fuming.

We fled. A cool twenty minutes after the lights went up, this was the scene...

I got a standing ovation for this. Seriously!
Click on the image and drool. (Pic by Scaife.)

Your celeb chef is posing with olive oil, olives, baby capers, garlic, chilli, some big fat anchovies and some finely sliced Spanish onions. 12 and a half minutes after that, with a few late-added segments of vine-ripened tomatoes, we were in Whore Heaven.

And the birthday girl didn't have to think about theatre ever again.

Me? I had to spend the next half dozen hours telling the truth about the show with as little malice as possible.

What's that expression about screwing the pooch?

I was actually looking for an image of the Ben Casey lookalike vet that the Simpsons visit in the Dog of Death ep. The only ones I can find have him giving mouth to mouth to Santa's Little Helper.

But I really wanted a pic of our hero vet disposing of a dead hamster -- the patient he has just lost. Cos all night, while I wrote, I was thinking of his immortal words -- "This is the part of the job I hate the most" -- as he casually lobs the carcass over his shoulder... It lands in a basketball hoop and plops into a bin. Nice.
"I love animals. I spend my life saving them and they can't thank me. Well, the parrots can."
Ah, criticism!

Since the company was founded 11 years ago, I think I've had he opportunity to review just the one KAGE show, Gerard's solo show, The Collapsible Man, in one of its return seasons. Maybe five years ago. A dazzling show.

Boy did I draw the short straw this time...

And god I hate bagging friends.

The only favour I've ever done a friend was to not review her show. [To boldly split infinitives, where no infinitives have been split before.] It was in the grey area -- student or not-quite-pro theatre -- so I could legitimately make that call.

Another time, when I wrote a review which singled out one of my closest friends for particular criticism, I contacted her before the review was published so that she'd hear it from me rather than read it after it hit the streets.

And, guess what? The review was never published. So we went through all that agony cos I had to go and say the critical equivalent of your arse looks really big in that.

But who gives a rats about my agony in the garden? They're the one who are feeling beaten up at the moment.

N.B. This was written before my close encounter with Ross Mueller at the closing night, er, 'bash'. Serves me right for being gentle.

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Blogger Alison Croggon said...

Nice-looking puttanesca, Boyd.

As for the rest, well, we don't get to hide behind dissembling generalities. You have to call things as you see them, for better or worse, or you might as well not bother. And yes, at times it can be a little uncomfortable, personally speaking, especially if you like the people at the wrong end of your pen. All the same, few critics are as unforgiving as other artists can be... I never ask composers about other composers, because they almost always hate them!

9:46 AM  

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