Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Michael Workman: Mercy, March 31, 2012 ****

Melbourne Town Hall, March 31 to April 22, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Workman hypnotises with his eccentric storytelling about one man’s defiance of the Cuban regime.

Michael Workman’s show, Mercy, is truly eccentric – I mean it’s genuinely from outside our circle of expectation.

He has the voice of a hypnotist and uses his even, rhythmic tones and lyrical language to tell – in a style that echoes the South American Magic Realists – a story about a family facing the regime in Cuba.

Mercy is, mercifully, not another stand-up show, but a sleek collage of storytelling, pencil illustrations, projections, flashcards and Workman’s original music that sounds like a soothing, European movie score.

It is riddled with philosophical and political asides about tyranny and the jerks that rule our world, and about the love that drives a man to be braver than he thought he could be.

Augustus, a journalist for Cuba’s ‘Widely Unread Newspaper’, calls Castro a ‘cabbage with a beard’ and is promptly taken from his loving wife and daughter, and set adrift in a boat filled with cabbages on the shark-infested ocean.

With an ironic lift of his black, caterpillar brows or a tilt of his bleached blonde head, Workman unfolds his story about Augustus’ journey of self-discovery as he meets talking sharks, Keith the Angel and the Starmaker with a seagull for a hat.

Mercy is a delicious Kinder-Surprise, filled with unexpected stories, non-sequiturs, images and philosophy.

By Kate Herbert

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