Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Sunday, 27 September 1998
INFECTIOU$, Sept 27, 1998
The 90s really had some mad theatre. Here's another archived review. KH by Maude
Davey and Marcia Ferguson
Lower Melbourne Town
Hall until Oct 11, 1998
INFECTIOU$ is a
psycho-pop-sci-fi-medical-satire with songs. Please explain? A
megalomaniacal capitalist, Mr. Sphinx, (Karen Hadfield) employs medical
researchers Drs. Pathology (James Wardlaw) and Drip (Jane Bayly), to isolate a
A patient called Infection (David Pidd) is turning into a
chair. Yes, a chair. Claudia, a Fitzroy resident with a social conscience, (Maude
Davey) is enraged by the insensitive, capitalist trend and laments her own
fading empathy for the troubled: the losers, loners, street-people.
A granny in pink dressing gown (Marcia Ferguson) is losing
her grip on this world and no-one seems to care - except her grand-daughter,
Claudia. This ugly, impersonal world values the virtual and the lucrative above
the actual and the personal. A 2-dimensional, screen queen (Pidd) coolly
comments on the virtual versus the real.
There is a social and political message. We are infected
with selfishness. We are blind to poverty, anguish, age and illness. Our sense
of community is virtually(!) gone. Without a dollar value to society we are dispensable.
The script for this wacky show was written by Marcia
Ferguson with Maude Davey, Madam of the Fringe, She Who Guides Us through the
lurid halls of alternative theatre.
The six actors, directed by Melanie Beddie, sing, dance and
quip their choreographed way through 90 minutes of goofy hospital cabaret,
reminiscent of the television grotesquery of Let the Blood Run Free.
The narrative is interspersed with diverse, original music
by Pete Farnan (Boom Crash Opera). The songs are the most inspiring and
satisfying component, making their political points with pithy lyrics and big,
live sound. Titles such as, "What will happen if nobody gives any
more?" "I object. I'm not an object," " I want to be
human,” "If money is a disease, I've got it," and " Give me a
dollar or I die," reveal the whole story.
There are a few
weaknesses that do not affect the fun of the evening. There are too many
narrative threads to be resolved. In the end, whose story is it? Nanny's?
Claudia's? Patient Infection's? The humour sometimes relies on bad puns and
under-grad jokes. If it were not for the quality of the performers it might be
mistaken for the Uni Med School revue.
But this is an hilarious, lively, impassioned night of
satirical humour which touches the bleeding, ugly core of our shallow world. We
do not want to " get over the empathy thing."