Wednesday 21 August 2019

Batmania - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

It's the newest and most popular holiday destination that everyone is scrambling to get to and during the Melbourne Fringe Festival, tickets to Batmania are bound to be the equivalent of a golden ticket to visit a certain chocolate factory. Created by The Very Good Looking Initiative (Elliott Gee, Honor Wolff and Patrick Durnan Silva), visitors will discover just how lucky a country we are through the exploration of Batmania's history, culture and politics with two immersive shows, Batmania, The Bus Tour and Batmania, Expo '19.

"We've created two very exciting and unforgettable ways to experience Batmania. You can hop on board a fully guided bus tour and journey through the heat of Batmania or become a citizen at the extravagant Batmania Expo 19’ for a once in a life time celebration," Gee tells me. "Tourists visiting Batmania can expect a surreal, twisted, horror comedy where they’ll be confronted with all that this great, southern land has to offer. Boths shows are a direct response to this country’s current contemporary moment as we question our Australian identity. What is this so called “Australian way of life” we often cling to? Is this really the lucky country? And for who?” Batmania is as unstable and fictitious as Australian history itself."

True to their word, visitors to Batmania, The Bus Tour have the opportunity to hop on board a bus and witness these delights through the relative safety of their vehicle, something Gee has long wanted to create. "It's always been a dream of mine to do a show on a bus, and what really inspired me was the Melbourne artists of the 80s' who created shows on moving vehicles like Bus - Son of Tram by comedian Rod Quantock and Storming Mont Albert by Tram, created as one of the first Theatre Works shows, did," he explains. "These performances were some of the first to take the audience out of the theatre and onto trams, buses, boats and out into the urban environment. We’ve also been inspired by by Ozploitation films, Willy Wonka, Australian punk music, Sea World, Eurovision, seagulls and of course Australian tourism.

The immersive experiences are bound to leave audiences surprised (and shocked) with what they witness, and while there's plenty in store, Gee is remaining tight lipped about the locals  we can expect to meet. "I cant give too much away, tourists just have to come visit and really soak themselves in Batmania. I'm excited for our audience to become tourists in their own city! To travel to a town they have never visited before and be immersed in two very different experiences. They will get to meet our Batmania mascot Sandy Seagull who is just super friendly."

While Gee didn't grow up in Batmania, he does - like many people - have his own Batmania-like experience. "Mine would probably be Launceston in Tasmania where I grew up. It's a somewhat small place and very engrained in its ways where you will meet so many interesting characters. There is something different about growing up on an island and in a small, regional centre that is very different to the big cities of Australia."

The two shows run concurrently so visitors must return to Theatre Works to experience the both sides to this Batmania extravaganza. Together with a large ensemble of performers, this is the most ambitious project The Very Good Look Initiative has embarked on, but if this company is good at one thing, it is taking big risks with intelligence and flair. "Batmania is a monster and the most ridiculous project we have ever created, but we have really tried to push the boundaries of our practice and work within this concept," Gee says. "We want to challenge our audiences perceptions of our brand of dark comedy. We've also assembled an amazing team of artists and performers, the biggest group we've ever worked with to help us realise the project so we just can't wait to see what happens!"



1. If you had to name your child after a vegetable what would it be? 

Potato, because I love chips and who doesn’t? Also seagulls love chips.
2. Which reality TV show would you most like to appear/compete on? 
I'm really against reality TV. I think it is making us all pretty dumb and it's so intense. But I'd love to go on My Kitchen Rules and cook the most amazing meals at the start of the season so I get through to the final rounds. Then I would make cheese toasties, jacket potatoes and nachos.
3. A movie that sums up my life is 2001: A Space Odyssey.
4. What's the one thing that happened during a show you were involved with that you wish you could forget?
Performing on stage completely naked as well as wet at the start of a show. I had a huge monologue to perform and got a bloody nose. I had to try and continue while backstage looking for tissues. It was a mess.

5. Art is risk and chaos.


Batmania, Expo '19
Theatre Works, 14 Acland St, St Kilda
Season: 11 - 21 September | Tue - Sat 8:30pm Sun 7:30pm
Length: 60 minutes

Tickets: $30 Full | $25 Conc and Preview | $23 Cheap Tuesday and Group 6+ 

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival 

Batmania, The Bus Tour
Venue: Theatre Works, 14 Acland St, St Kilda
Season: 11 - 21 September | Tues - Sat 7:00pm, Sun 6:00pm
Length: 90 minutes

$35 Full | $30 Conc | $28 Cheap Tuesday, Group 6+ and Preview
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

Graphic design: Seb Godfrey 
Image credit: Annika Kafcaloudis


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