Ladies and jellybeans, the world is broken. People are broken. Politics is broken. Society is broken. So in the face of all of this chaos, what can the young people of the world do to change it? To make a difference? To stop the destruction by destroying the system?
TRASH POP BUTTERFLIES is an intense, fascinating, poignant, hopeful and absurd look at the world through the eyes of three young women filled with hope and hopelessness. Brilliantly written by Maki Mortia, this play is provocative without being preachy. It is a heartbreaking view of watching young people with so much anger and hope and aspiration to challenge what they see is wrong with the world, in a society that thrives on crushing such spirits. If you give a shit about anything, this play will shake you to the core.
Upon entering the theatre, you are confronted with a deliciously anarchistic set made of sheets of plastic plastered with phrases like 'LONG LIVE PUSSY' and 'BURN THE GOVERNMENT'. Designed by Jessamine Moffett, this set manages to create the perfect messy-hipster-apartment without making the space feel crowded. Some mismatched rugs, a couch with a billion cushions and some gorgeous pots of mushrooms by a wooden shipping pallet, are just some of the great details that make this space feel incredibly lived in.
Playing the three housemates are Vivian Nguyen as Pepper, Hayley Edwards as Moon and Alana Louise as Kitty. As the Matriarch of the group, Kitty charges the girls forward towards their goal of building a utopia where people, thought and speech are free. Louise provides a strength and resilience that makes her role within the group completely valid and believable. Edwards as Moon represents a vapid idealistic optimism that is reminiscent of Katie, the tiny yellow yak from Horton Hears a Who - except Moon is pink...and also a shoplifter. As Pepper, Nguyen is the ultimate anarchist. With a hatred for nearly everything and anything in this "fucked up" world, Nguyen delivers one the most incredible, passionate and mind-blowing monologues I have ever witnessed, with such vigour and fight that I wanted to get up an cheer mid-show. The three of them combined form a hyper-feminist power trio, all with very different personalities and 'super powers', standing in the face of a modern society that continuously tries to destroy them with discrimination, assault, horror and disrespect.
In addition to the trio are two incredibly well-written characters and superbly directed actors who play a bucket of cameo roles with a bucket of different accents and physical styles to accompany. Margot Morales and Myfanwy Hocking are brilliant. Morales might keep getting the short end of the stick in each vignette, but my goodness that does not stop them coming back for more! Each scene is a stark contrast to the perils of the human world presented by the core trio. Presenting as a range of different creatures, the pair embody each with great physical and vocal differences, but all with the same sincerity. They never feel like a send up and provide great contrast to the rebellious revolution of the household, with simple and naive observations of the world from the perspective of bugs, insects and small creatures (and two disgruntled superstore employees).
The costume design (also by Jessamine Moffett) is so incredibly clever. Morales and Hocking are transformed into so many people and creatures using the simplest yet most ingenious pieces of costume. My favourite costume however, is the jacket worn by Pepper. Covered in safety pins with awesome detailing on the spine - that jacket deserves to be on a runway.
Brilliantly directed by Amelia Burke, with choreography by Alec Katsourakis, these actors do not miss a beat. The characters are strong, the story is clear and everybody leaves everything the have on the floor. To wrap up this perfect production, sound design by Laura Strobech is right in the pocket. Amid the mix of screaming femme-punk-power, there are gorgeous moments of magic whenever Moon casts her optimistic spell that are just so beautifully timed - it really adds a great element of magic to the show. Perhaps the highlight being the final dance, when the music blasts over the speakers, only to fade out to reveal that the music in reality is just Moon singing her silly songs, bringing out the inner energies of all around her, creating a sense of unity, connection and hope.
Shows like this are the reason I love theatre. Theatre Works has been a long-time supporter of independent theatre and its creators. And for that, we should be eternally grateful, because that support means we are able to see incredible pieces of theatre like TRASH POP BUTTERFLIES: Dance, Dance, Paradise.
Photography: Oscar Shaw.
TRASH POP BUTTERFLIES: Dance, Dance, Paradise is playing at Theatre Works until April 1st.
Tickets and further information can be found here.