‘Deceptive Threads’, by David Joseph and Karen Berger, is a journey of self-discovery through investigation of family history. Joseph is both deviser and performer of this honest and humorous performance. Embodying family members, he tells stories of origin, community, and family myths. Moments are brought to life when Joseph plays himself, a technique I simply describe as ‘non-acting’. Away with caricatures, accents, and costumes – audience members get to hear from Joseph the person about why his family is so important to him. These moments are the highlight of the performance.
Growing up in Australia, the only connection Joseph has to his ancestors is the memories of the cultured milk dish known as labne. Joseph decides to fix this by getting to the origins of his own identity through a DNA test. Results that hint to heritage that spreads across the globe is only the beginning. One grandfather, Elias Joseph, comes from the Middle East; and the other, Fred Ommundson, is a policeman turned singer, than singer turned ASIOS spy.
With many autobiographical performances, one must wonder where the line between fact and fiction begins. Joseph cast asides doubt through primary source documents, images, and songs from his family archives. It’s a delight to listen to the audio from his grandfather’s a capella performance in the early 1900s.
‘Deceptive Threads’ is a collision of the personal and the political. With imagery and anecdotes from Australian politicians, Joseph is heavy handed on the political themes, and it is the personal that is the saving grace making it beautiful and touching.
Fortyfive Downstairs is the perfect venue for Deceptive Threads. It is small and intimate, which allows Joseph to speak directly to us as if we are friends. The projection mapping and design by Zoe Scoglio and Hisham Tawfiqi is impressive.
‘Deceptive Threads’ is honest and raw, which is what I love about autobiographical performances.
Amber B. is a freelance stage manager who is excited to keep you up to date with Melbourne’s best theatre.