Created by the House of Vnholy and performed as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Homme is a performative piece that explores male identity and contemporary masculinity within Australia. Through a series of vignettes and in complete silence, the differences between what it means to be a male and be a female are subtly explored.
It is standing room only during the performance, with Homme enveloping virtually the whole space. The white flooring is bare except for a number of select items, including a washing machine, a bundle of black balloons, a megaphone and a plinth. The two performers – Matthew Adey and Natalie Abbott - are dressed in black and the only time they speak is when they ask audience members for assistance with the props.
An audio menagerie of animal sounds play out from the speakers as Adey undresses and rest atop the washing machine in tableau. In conjunction with these sounds, Adey very much resembles a reposing lion, which evokes the idea of masculinity and the animal kingdom and being the king of the “jungle”.
At one point Adey resumes his standing position, still unclothed, and opens himself to be the object of not only Abbott’s gaze, but also ours. Later, Adey 'battles’ with a plinth, as he hugs, clings to and succumbs to the over-powering weight of it. Like a Greek sculpture battling to return to his rightful position on the pedestal, so to is masculinity struggling to demand and retain its position of power.
The 30-minute performance moves quite slowly and at times, there is no movement happening at all. However, the striking images and vignettes give the audience the opportunity to venture inside themselves and think about the issues HOMME is raising as it is raising them without missing out on what comes next. HOMME asks us to question what being a “man” in contemporary society entails while hinting that the masculine and the feminine are not so different after all and there is no necessity for division and differentiation.
Venue: Northcote Town Hall, 189 High St, Northcote, 3070.Season: Until 3 October | Sat 3.30pm and 8.30pm
Tickets: $22 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival
* Original review appeared on Theatre Press on 2 October