This week I went to see a couple of this year’s student productions by NIDA, the National Institute of Dramatic Arts.
On Monday night I went by myself to see “Shopping & F***king”, featuring a small cast of quite good actors in a play set in the round. At the heart of the play is the intersection between consumerism and sexuality, with the apparent theme that consumerism has become another way in which people seek to attract each other and that sexuality has become just another commodity. The title itself, suggests the play is fairly confronting with drug use, coarse language and nudity throughout.
I don’t know, maybe I’m middle-aged and middle-class, but I didn’t find the play as interesting now as I would have, for example, back in the 1990s when it was written. I just didn’t understand why, aside from their drug addictions, people would treat each other so poorly. And I didn’t understand what an audience would have to gain from seeing people behave like that. No, I’m not turning all Oprah, but I just wondered to myself “why bother”. That said, some of the actors were very good, especially Shaun Goss who plays Gary who leaves a three-way relationship with his down-and-out friends for a life of consumerism on the arms of a rent boy. Sounds like Jerry Springer, doesn’t it?
And then last night, Colin and I went to see “The Laramie Project”, a play which re-tells the story and recounts the reactions of the people of Laramie, Wyoming to the gate hate crime which resulted in the death of Matthew Shepherd in 1998. Although I’ve seen the play twice before – first in Wagga, and then at Belvoir Street – I thought this was probably the best production I’ve seen.
Good, because I think the actors seems to really understand the subject matter and the characters. For me, this meant they helped reveal new layers of meaning and subtlety which I hadn’t noticed before. I hadn’t for example, remembered some of the authenticity of the anti-gay speeches in the play. Maybe it was just the acting and having seen the play twice before? Or maybe my own understanding of human nature has also changed a little in the last ten years.
So overall, two largely good theatre experiences. And in case you’re wondering about my own perspective on “Shopping & F***ing”: I do one of them three times a week, and the other only occasionally.