“Monsters” written by Emme Hoy, directed by Matthew Lutton, choreography by Stephanie Lake, is now showing at the Malthouse Theatre. This isn’t a show I would usually review, as I often just like to review shows that speak to me in some way, and I don’t like horror films at all, but my friend who does enjoy the genre really wanted to go, so since the tickets were offered to me by the Malthouse, I thought, let’s give it a go.
Monsters is a hybrid theatre piece, where dance and a theatrical narrative come together. We have four in the cast: one actor, Alison Whyte, who is playing three characters, interchanging between voices while being on stage the whole time; and three dancers, Josie Weise, Samantha Hines and Kimball Wong. The dancers are not always on stage but Alison is, she’s underground in a deep cave searching from her sister, assisted by a cave expert.
What the dancers represent in this theatrical narrative will probably vary across audience members. Are they the invisible monsters in the shadows that Alison can’t see? Are they the monsters in her head? Are they capturing the ambience of the cave itself? Whatever their purpose was, the dancing and choreography was spectacular, and I write this with twelve years of dancing experience under my belt (yes, that’s right, I used to be a dancer!). The flexibility and the movement, it was phenomenal. Going hand-in-hand with the sound design by Marco Cher-Gibard, and the set and lighting design by Paul Jackson, the dancers were disappearing in gaps behind the set, climbing up gaps in the roof, like they were being swallowed by an invisible force.
Similarly, some of the movement by Alison was really interesting and believable. For example, there was one point where it really did feel like her body was moving through a very narrow space to get through to the other side of the wall.
Like I said earlier, horror is not really my genre, and of course art can be so subjective, but this theatre piece as a whole didn’t sit right in my stomach. I felt that the writing itself could have done with some more development, and I would have appreciated more silence to absorb what was happening rather than being told what was happening through the actor, which at times had me disengaging. I thought that this may have perhaps been the intention of the creative team, to create a sense of claustrophobia, like you are actually really down in that cave yourself. In fact, at times I felt as if the story had transported from the theatre stage to my imagination, which wasn’t pleasant for me. If that was the intention, mission accomplished!
Koraly Dimitraidis is a Cypriot-Australian writer and performer and the author of Love and F—k Poems and Just Give Me The Pills. Her theatre show “I say the wrong things all the time” premiered at La Mama in 2016. She received Darebin Speakeasy funding in 2020 with Stephen Nicolazzo to develop a new theatre work. Koraly’s opinion articles/essays have been published widely including international publications in The Washington Post and The Guardian. She was awarded an associate artist residency at Theatre Works in 2020.
“Monsters” runs 24th November – 12th December at Malthouse Theatre. Book tickets here.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Malthouse Theatre
Photo credit: Pia Johnson