Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reviews: Nature League, Justine Sless


By The Nature League.

I love the music of Amiina, who used to be the string section for Sigur Ros but now release their own stuff too. I get the feeling the Nature League are fans too, since this installation/performance could be an Amiina video clip made flesh. Four women in flowy white Picnic at Hanging Rock type outfits float around in a misty white greenhouse as we watch from outside. Ethereal, harmonic music plays and sometimes they sing along. Inside the soft-focus tent are hanging vines, water features, petals and leaves occasionally flying around and other stuff happens too. It’s quick and teensy-tiny and purely affective rather than didactic or textual or narrative-based. And it’s a little more on the installation side of live art rather than being truly live, since there’s no real interaction between audience and object until a small coda at the end. But it’s a very pleasant little art break and only costs a fiver. Plus the music’s lovely.

Ends tomorrow at the Warehouse, Fringe Hub.


By Justine Sless.

The first time I saw Justine Sless was at last year’s Comedy Festival. I was still smarting from that particular run-in when I saw she had a new show in the Fringe. See, I suspect that the first time I saw her was actually the first time she’d stood in front of a public audience and tried to make the funnies. As in first ever – it was a preview, too. And bless my nippers, it was incredible. I’ve never seen someone die on-stage the way Sless did. Vladimir Nabokov once wrote that “A good laugh is the best pesticide”. Well, Sless’ performance reversed the situation, acting as a kind of industrial strength repellent to laughs. So, of course, I was more than willing to dust off the old defensive headgear and go another round in the ring with her.

Colour me corrected! In the year and a half since that bantamweight bout Sless and clearly been spending a lot of time in training. First up she’s shifted from the comedy category to the more open-ended “performance” section of the Fringe program. And secondly, she’s written some rather pleasant and sometimes clever material. She’s got a script and ironed it out nicely, a set, some props, a costume and a point. Her first outing was one of those painful exercises where friends and family tell her she’s funny so she thought she could just get up and ad lib an hour of A-grade humour (obviously this did not eventuate). Now she’s crafted a tiny little ode to the nobility of all things housewifesque, finding a particular poetry in baking and cleaning and attempting to effect a feminist revolution through the liberatory promise of the kitchen sponge. There’s some nice lyricism, a dry irony and an occasionally unnerving level of direct eye contact. A little girl in the front row was laughing uncontrollably, and all of the audience (full capacity of 10) were certainly onside throughout the show. It’s hardly a stellar rise to the top of the pile but I have to say, it’s a wonderful experience to watch someone take an early fall and get back up, try to work out what went wrong and do better next time.

Ends Oct 3, Queen Victoria Womens Centre.

1 comment:

Gilligan said...

Hello sir,

Firstly, thanks for the reviews. You are by far the best reviewer of theatre in Melbourne at the moment. It is nice to be able to read a review of a play without having to dodge all the hisorical and academic references to find out what the writer actually thinks.

Secondly, if you haven't caught these shows yet, go check em out, they are the best I have seen in fringe so far.

- a Black Joy at 45 downstairs. Awesome and grotesque work from Declan Greene and Susie Dee with incredible performances- AnneBrowning = ace.

- Maelstrom at Willow Bar in Northcote. Beautifuly poetic and very funny show exploring the rise and fall of relationships. Set in a laundromat too!

- Everything will be okay at 45 downstairs. An ace puppetry show that's like watching YouTube clips or late night sbs. Stick around after black joy and find a little gem.