Epic. Bold. Inflatable. Understated magnificence. Catching internationally lauded Back To Back Theatre’s current Melbourne Festival offering ‘Lady Eats Apple‘ turns your world asunder. Yes, it’s the Garden of Eden story, but told in the uniquely disquieting fashion this company is famous for. The scale and practical dramatics of this piece astound.
Entering Hamer Hall via backstage, we came through the side of an inflatable ‘skin’. Pushing our ways through, a bit like a reverse birth, we entered a very womb-like black massive tent space. This represented both the dawn of time, or eternity or timelessness. That’s where we came upon the ‘gods’ talking and going through the naming of the animals in Noah’s arc, and themselves — God, Man, Eve, the Apple, knowledge, language.
Popping on headphones, we overhear different conversations. Breathing, asides, jokes, anger. The content is deep and the characters impassioned. This company goes with where none other does. God1 performing euthanasia on another god. Sex between people with special needs. Questions of workplace politics and opportunities for those stamped ‘dis/abled’. What love itself means. Mentoring in the arts. Language as tool for bullying. All elegantly conveyed via stripped-back drama and comedy, spoken word, rear screen projections, and with an enveloping soundscape.
The narrative covers many stages in the life of man: first with the Gods watching man, his creation. God1 tells the parable of Genesis and of man’s expulsion after Eve eats of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. God2 deconstructs language, the naming of the animals in Noah’s Ark, and confronts his arts mentor, berating him for his limiting mindset.
We move through a moment of hypnotic monasticism carried out almost entirely in the dark, with shadows the only illumination. Ending with us watching a team of cleaners talking in the seating at Hamer Hall. The mundane and the infinitesimal are paired, just like Adam and Eve were, throughout the work.
The expert dramatic skills of the actors, many Melbourne ‘stage favourites’, shine. What looks simple is, in fact, deeply complex. In their electric blue tracksuits, the cast magnificently show up the assumptions civilisation has about itself- and those consigned to its margins.
Theatre this perfect leaves you breathless. Never a company to miss, the wonder you feel as the tent collapses matches the reveal as the script interrogates the illusions man lives under. This show sold out and will tour internationally.
Sarah W. is a dance-trained theatre lover with a flair for the bold, and non-traditional performance platforms. On-the-street or in the box seat, she is always looking for quality works that push the envelope!
‘Lady Eats Apple’ ran 8-13 October, 8pm (75 minutes) at Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne.
The venue is wheelchair accessible.