Thursday, 19 October 2000

Happy 1000, 1000 Bahagia & American Dreamchasing, Oct 19, 2000

Happy 1000, 1000 Bahagia by Peter Turrini
La Mama at The Black Box until October 22, 2000

American Dreamchasing by Mark Hansen
North Melbourne Town Hall until October 22, 2000
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Happy 1000, 1000 Bahagia is performed in Indonesian, English and Australian deaf sign language. (Auslan) Ironically, the play, written by Pete Turrini, is originally in Austrian.

Not only is Turrini's text demanding and provocative, but the collision of three languages, the physical style and dramatic content create a riveting performance.

The form is abstract. A man (Wawan Sofwan) decides he will kill himself when he finishes counting to one thousand. Two women (Jodee Mundy, Tiffany Ball) count with him in English and Auslan as he counts in Indonesian.

Yes, they really do count the whole way to one thousand but there are diversions into the man's last days, his memories, images of walking in the street, meeting neighbours and trying to maintain his translation job for a newspaper.

The counting becomes mesmerising. It numbers off his last moments as he marches toward suicide. The three count in rhythm, the numbers are counterpointed like a musical score. The man holds a gun to his head reminding us of his impending doom.

The performances are compelling particularly of Sofwan who is a sparkling presence on stage. Mundy has a brightness which enlivens her physical performance in Auslan and Ball provides the connection for those understanding only English.

The direction by Sandra Long is inventive and takes advantage of the abstraction of the script. She finds innumerable ways to colour what could be lifeless enumeration.

Turrini writes with beauty and conviction with a rich sense of the power of the mind in a state of depression and obsession.

Another performer who presents a potent obsessive presence is Mark Zonacat Hansen. His show, American Dreamchasing with Spirit Drive not Ego Jive, fits no mode of performance.

He chats about his Attention Deficit Disorder, his abstract random mode of thinking which he tries to fit into a linear form.

He tells stories about New Age theory, EST, self-discovery and the search for happiness in a world that thinks he is crackers.

As the only audience member, this was an oddly personal experience. It is not drama, nor is it comedy. It is not the most skilful of scripts or performances. But it is strangely compelling.

By Kate Herbert
for 2 pages:

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