Wednesday, 30 August 2006

The Wages of Spin by Version 1.0, Aug 30, 2006

The Wages of Spin by Version 1.0
North Melbourne Town Hall
Aug 30 to September 9, 2006
Wed to Sat 8pm, sat 4pm, Sun 3pm,
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Aug 30

The Wages of Spin, a documentary-style political theatre production by Version 1.0, is a complex and acerbic analysis of Australia’s participation in the War in Iraq.

The production is a hybrid of theatre and visual media, using both live performance and video to replicate the mass of news information and its manipulation at the hands of both politicians and television journalism. Much of the dialogue is from verbatim transcripts from interviews with politicians and other commentators.

We hear re-voiced snatches of Howard and Bush’s election victory speeches, excerpts from public documents, senate committee proceedings and opinion pieces. The play revisits the futile search for weapons of mass destruction, the AWB wheat for weapons scandal, the failure of the occupation to bring peace and Private Jake Kovko’s death.

We experience information overload, just as the on-screen, vox-pop interviewees report. We are overwhelsmed by a seemingly endless scrolling list of casualties in Iraq, Iraqi civilians outnumbering military almost twenty to one.

In this mock television studio, we watch a reporter read a timeline of Australia’s involvement in the war. Interspersed with invasion details are those of Delta Goodrem’s love life and health, highlighting the awful irony of our obsession with celebrities that eclipses the death and destruction in a war zone.

Every image is layered. In the opening scene, we witness the confronting image of a hooded prisoner walking across a bed of nails. Slowly, we realise his dialogue is that of Senator Robert Hill evading questions about whether Australians were involved in “interrogations’ in Iraq.

The production crew (Ingrid Siversen, Katy Green, Dan Pardy) accompany
three performers (David Williams, Kim Vercoe, Stephen Kinder) on stage. All are dressed in army fatigues. The war permeates everything.

Williams’ direction has a swift energy. The three performers present the material and characters with a wry, often grim humour and capture the confusion of the electronic media without losing the clarity of their investigation.

The complexity of the issues is intensified by the manic action on the floor. Video artist, Sean Bacon, with a bank of monitors and mixers, edits video footage before our eyes. The set is scooted around the stage, cameras appear from nowhere, images appear on a giant screen or smaller monitors. Our every move is being documented.

The Wages of Spin is fine and challenging entertainment.

By Kate Herbert

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