By City of Voices. South Melbourne Commons. Season ended.
Any diet of theatre should include regular inclusions of community development shows, kids' theatre, high school plays, drama school presentations, stand-up nights, readings and other staples that remind you that not all theatre aspires to the same thing. They also keep you regular and make your hair more glossy.
Paradise? is firmly in the community camp – it's an ensemble work by South Melbourne's City of Voices, who don't seem to have any particular brief beyond making work that involves everyone who wants to be a part. The group features members with and without disabilities as well as spanning a broad range of age and ethnicity.
The piece itself began as audiences were ushered through an outdoor installation where the performers were stationed as witches and sprites and toys and clowns. Once seated inside a hall, these actors played out a series of scenes apparently inspired by Paradise Lost, though the narrative thread wasn't particularly obvious. In fact, I was never really sure why anything that occurred did so, but that's a minor quibble.
It wasn't an instant classic, though I only say that because I've seen a lot of similar community stuff that has embedded itself in my memory forever (in a good way). But I don't think that Paradise? was intended to be anything more than it was, so it's meaningless to compare it to what it wasn't.