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Review: Alternative Futures at Theatre Works

Review by Stephanie Lee

Alternative Futures transformed St Kilda’s Acland St momentarily into a new futuristic world through a series of interesting monologues fusing the struggles of the last two years with hope for a better future.

Throughout the show there were six different monologues all connected by their imagining of the future: A Fine Line in Time, The Lady of the Cakes, Plasticity, Don’t Touch the Glass, Dance St Kilda Dance and Beautiful Guwanggaga. Although at times I felt like I wanted a bit more of a through line between the monologues, the separate, contained nature of them worked to create little glimpses of the future happened upon by the audience. Further enhancing the fleeting nature of the monologues was the moment when we walked back past two of the monologue sites and the actors and set had completely disappeared as if never there.

Set against the bustle of Acland St, the walking tour uses headphones and sound to fuse the present and future together. It was a unique experience being a part of a whole different world in the middle of a public space. Often the audience would exchange looks with members of the public in this weird meeting of real life and performance, which I think actually enhanced the experience making each moment with the actors feel like a small vision.

Downie’s sound design complimented the monologues and walking perfectly, constantly creating new atmospheres for the audience that didn’t feel imposed on the environment surrounding us. Two highlights were the distant chatter of the cake shop in Vuletic’s monologue that created a warm ambience and the funky disco-like tracks played during Favell’s reminiscing monologue.

The acting throughout was diverse and made for well varied monologues along our journey. A standout performance was Vuletic’s ‘The Lady of the Cakes’, as she warmly invited the audience to listen and eat cake, while captivating us with her grand persona. Fereday was also a highlight, perched in a tree telling stories of the First Nations people of the land and reminiscing about times when you could see the bay from where she was standing. Even from afar Fereday managed to effectively engage the audience, making us see the true beauty of the world around.

Interestingly the show started with the reality of entering a new post-COVID world and the anxieties it induces, keeping the post-lockdown reality of the present in our minds throughout the performance. Traversing topics like pollution and the recent issues in Afghanistan, the show looks at the present from the future asking us to question what we are doing now for the future and how will we remember these last two years when they are further away from right now.

Although at times the present/future imagining was a little jarring and bordered on too didactic, the overall premise was really interesting and made the audience reflect on the pandemic in a different, less bleak way.

Overall, Alternative Futures was an enlightening, enjoyable walking theatre experience with intimate encounters holding bleakness and hope together in a shared imagining of the what the future might hold.

Image Supplied


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