Wednesday, 22 August 2018

The Boy, George - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

On 22 July 2013, George Alexander Louis was born. Why is this important? Because George is the third in line of succession to the British throne. Looks like Prince George - as he is otherwise known - has his entire life planned out for him. But by 2028, with the Queen dead and George finally set for the throne, it appears that a revolution will begin which will threaten the rule and existence of the entire Royal Family. In his solo Melbourne Fringe Festival debut, writer and performer Patrick Livesey takes a futuristic look at the life of Prince George and his aspirations to be King in The Boy, George.

"The idea for the show began as a semi-autobiographical piece about graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts and taking on the world, but that became very boring very quickly," Livesey recalls. "One day at work, I was doing the dishes and I began to imagine a slightly older and gay Prince George losing it all, and thought that might be a bit more fun, and also be a nice homage to my mother's intense Princess Diana obsession. I grew up with a Royal-obsessed Mum and bookshelves full of biographies so they were never distant figures, but I would classify myself as more of a curious observer than a fan."

However, Livesey didn't just rely on his mother and her library of information to write his show. "My process has been a lot of sitting in front of my laptop, drinking lots of coffee, watching every royal documentary that Netflix, Stan and YouTube have to offer, all the while muttering to myself in a sort-of English accent," he explains. "At VCA we tended towards discovering things on the floor as ensembles so the process was quite different with this solo show. As it was just me, I indulged in sitting down and writing it all out first. Fairly straightforward, just lots and lots of rewrites as new themes emerge and stronger ideas take hold."

Being the writer and performer of your first solo show can be a daunting experience and it can be difficult to gauge where the story is strongest and what should be changed or removed. For The Boy, George, Livesey has enlisted the assistance of Nathan Burmeister as dramaturg and Natalie Gillis and Esther Myles as outside eyes. "It’s been an ongoing collaboration with all three, and given I’m both writer and performer I’ve been grateful for the frequent and much needed feedback. Working alone quickly becomes a bit of an echo chamber and opening it up to fresh eyes is nerve-wracking but has been very rewarding."

Writing a show about a real person can be limiting in how that person is portrayed, but writing a show about a real person in the future has opened up many avenues for Livesey, especially given the queer satire that the show is dripping with. "The queerness and satire are very much central to the work. I’ve taken the archetype of a spoiled prince and turned him on his head, robbed him all he was certain of and asked him to fight for it," he tells me. "It’s a satire about power and privilege but also being a young person and the expectations we have all put on ourselves at some point and then had to let go of a little." 

Whether you're a royal fan or not, Livesey assures me that The Boy, George, is a show that everyone can get behind in one way or another. "People can expect a ridiculous, funny and tragic rollercoaster ride into the inner-workings of a 14 year old Prince’s mind," he says. "One who is very confident, very entitled and very, very gay. For those who couldn’t care less about The Royal Family, you get to watch one of them scramble to save themselves before they lose it all."

 Five Quick Ones

1. Art is important!

2. If you had to become an animal, which would you choose and why?
It’s always been an otter though I’ve never known why. I think I saw one frolicking at the zoo when I was little and decided that was the kind of life I wanted for myself. 

3. What song would you play on repeat to torture someone?
Having endured the torture myself as an 18 year old on a bus tour of Europe, I can easily say The Proclaimers’ "I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)". Nothing says hell like waking up to this every time you pull into a new city. 

4. How long would you survive in a zombie apocalypse?
I’d like to think I’d do alright however apocalyptic dreams are frequent for me and they never end well. 

5. It just isn't a Fringe Festival experience without supporting my incredibly talented friends. I feel like I’m meant to say something wild but I’m surrounded by so many wonderful and exciting artists and Fringe always means getting to bask in their glory. If you need any recommendations hit me up!

Show Information

Venue: Errol's & Co,
69-71 Errol St, North Melbourne. 
Season:  20 - 25 September | Thurs - Tues 9:30pm 
Length: 50 minutes
Tickets: $24 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

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