Friday, February 24, 2006


On Wednesday night I went to see The Borough at Gasworks in Albert Park. I was mildly trepidatious. All I'd heard about it was that it was a history of Port Melbourne, which doesn't to me scream 'must-see theatre' (I don't know if that phrase even makes any kind of sense, actually). But a friend directed it and some other friends had expressed interest in going (for that reason, not the subject matter) so we piled up outside some bar in Chapel St just as dusk began to spread its warm husky hues across the land.

Somebody decided it would be a good idea to grab something to eat. Time on our side, we went for a Thai-Vietnamese place with tables outside, and spoke of many things. Most of these aren't that interesting or relevant, but one thing that came up was how the biggest obstacle preventing a manned mission to Mars from taking place was that a bunch of people cooped up in a tin can for a four-year trip each way would undoubtedly end up killing each other, or something equally horrible. I mean, it only takes a few weeks on Big Brother before the honeymoon is over and people are going at each other with the wrong end of the pool cleaner.

Being amongst the finest minds of our generation, a few solutions were batted around before we got bored/ADHD kicked in:

- one of the crewmembers must be an annoying robot, and therefore the first to go (but not tragically so). Doesn't work for me.

- one of the crew members must be an annoying human, and therefore the first to go. Much better. When the others realise what they've done, there will be no more killing.

- the sole crew member must be Tom Hanks, who's been into space before and who lasted much longer on his own in Cast Away and should be fine as long as a steady supply of volleyballs is at hand. If he does go mad, it will be entertaining for Earth viewers.

- send a bunch of Buddhist monks.

Now, I wouldn't mention all of this talk if it didn't come up again later. As we were leaving Gasworks, we noticed a poster for another event coming up in the same location: namely, these guys:


They almost look like Martians themselves. But lo! Do they look suspiciously like anyone in particular?


And we'd just spent an hour learning about Port Melbourne, home of the very nice MARS gallery!


All very strange.

Anyway, opinions were divided on The Borough. Half of our number (myself incl.) enjoyed it, other half didn't. I guess I kind of like historical stuff and also the fact that now I know more about Port Melbourne than most people, which makes me feel superior and non-ignoramus-like.
But it wasn't for everyone - culled from 25 interviews with residents, it was a pretty straight delivery of various voices expressing their opinions on the good ol' days, the bad ol' days and the current over-development of the area. Played out by two actors, one of whom wrote the thing, the job was pulled off pretty smoothly and economically, with a minimal design and lighting scheme. It was part verbatim theatre, part community event, part performed lecture. If you had an interest in the area (or lived there) you'd be well off seeing it. If you're not big on historical details and parochial anecdotes, though, maybe not.


Ben Ellis said...

Verbatim-style theatre is tough work; it's difficult to find startling theatrical formulations for text which is determinedly not theatrical at its source. Sounds like Clare Watson did a good job, though, particularly under the threat of Martians. I've never really understood why that Martian or their Monk proxies want to "blow up the earth" (or "transcend being", as they code their ultra-violent message).

Ben Ellis said...

Pardon me, that should have read "his Monk proxies"

PS Sorry that my photo keeps showing up. Has a mind of its own.