Friday 2 June 2017

Wrecking Ball review

The third and final show for Action Hero’s tour of Melbourne ends with their most affecting one, Wrecking Ball, which plays with the concept of the imagined and the real and what happens when these two things come together. Can they co-exist or will it be an explosion of catastrophic proportions? Created, written and performed by James Stenhouse and Gemma Paintin, it is a cleverly constructed show that gradually but suddenly pulls the rug out from under your feet.

Stenhouse is a photographer attempting to photograph a celebrity played by Paintin. The photographer is busy making himself a cocktail at his makeshift bar. Above him hangs a small neon lit sign with the words “cocktails and dreams”. He welcomes us and offers us a drink and to take our seat. The celebrity remains seated, surrounded by lighting and photographic equipment, patiently yet frustratingly waiting to begin the shoot.

The celebrity wants to be true to who she is, yet the constant, subtle pressure that the photographer places on her soon robs her of her consent and agency, a battle where even the audience is not safe from being thrust into. The conversation, and more specifically the language between them - between us - results in an engaging power struggle that blends fact and fiction and the authentic with the fake. 

The closing moments of the show are incredibly tense and Paitin’s committed performance during this exposes the celebrity’s vulnerability and fear. Jo Palmer’s adroit lighting design evocatively plays with bright and dark light and brilliantly captures the seduction of the mind and the capacity that words have to influence others.

Wrecking Ball doesn’t immediately knock you to the ground, but its persistent knocks succeed at eventually tearing down the beliefs you’ve held on to regarding who you are – who we are – and what this means in terms of presenting ourselves to the world. It is the perfect way to end Action Hero’s three show season exploration of human behaviour.

Venue: Arts House, 521 Queensberry St, North Melbourne
Until 3 June | Fri - Sat 7:30pm
$40 Full | $35 Conc | $30 Student
Bookings: Arts House

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