It’s post-9/11 Australia. A concrete jungle is slowly swallowing all that remains of the natural world. Even the animals feel the end is nigh and are hanging themselves and mauling one another in a bid to escape their impending demise. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and the skyscrapers and whitegoods are winning in this trippy reimagining of Gareth Ellis’ acclaimed play.
Directed by Peter Mountford, A View Of Concrete introduces a dystopia where paranoia and fear has sown itself into the minds of our four characters, growing rapidly on the inundation of technology, drugs, and the media around them. In an inspired burst of creativity, Mountford likens this dystopia to that of a cartoon world, utilising Mickey Mouse ears, Sleeping Beauty songs and Peter Pan dialogue to suggest that escapism into Disney-like dreams is the key to survival. It’s an intriguing concept, and one that blurs the lines between truth and imagination in one drug-induced haze.
The first character we meet is Billy. Played with exceptional fluidity and innocence by Taryn Brine, she is birthed from the womb of a washing machine, wielding dreams of shrinking, shrinking, shrinking, to the point where she a fairy and is returned to nature in the arms of a jacaranda tree.
Of course, this is a ruse, a mind-worm, a delusion that disguises the fact that she’s anorexic. Her friend Jacquie (Rebecca Martin) encourages her to eat, but she too harbours vices. Dark sexual desires of having her boyfriend James (Matt Longman) physically abuse her during sex haunt her. But James is blissfully unaware of this as he’s too fixated on a paranoid belief that his Turkish neighbour is a terrorist. Exhausted by her attempts to dissuade him from such racist notions, Jacquie evidently finds her escape in drugs, which she obtains from Neil.
Neil, played by Tim Dashwood in a standout performance, is a drug-dealing, book-reading imp who begins life onstage as nothing more than a background prop. This insignificance is short-lived, however, as layers of compassion, intelligence and quirk peel off in delicious succession. Ideas and philosophies fly off his tongue and burn questions of morality and blissful ignorance into our minds where they remain (and perhaps even grow) long after the curtain is drawn.
A View Of Concrete is playing at King Street Theatre until Saturday August 2.