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Review : Exit Strategies at North Melbourne Arts House

By Kerrie Batrouney

Exit Strategies is created by Mish Grigor in collaboration with APHIDS co-directors Lara Thoms and Eugenia Lim. There is a creative team supporting Mish but she is all alone on stage for the entire show, except when she is being supported by a video of herself! Mish does a great job of engaging with the audience, her range of facial expressions and physical comedy is impressive. The show explores why people leave, how they leave and when they should leave.

On entering the theatre, we were faced with a very green set (at first I thought this was a reference to aphids, but no, it is a green screen!) It was a very large set filled with mysterious green bedecked lumps. All except one lump, which was a variation on the same fabric as Mish’s costume. My eyes kept heading back to it time and time again, it was a weird choice, like a fabric from the back of the sewing cupboard that for years you have been looking for a use for. I kept wondering – what were the carefully sewn slits in her trousers all about?

Exits strategies is, as you would expect, all about the different ways of leaving. These started very briefly like ‘leave with a little wave’ or my favourite ‘just leave’ and progressed to ever more convoluted ways of departing. Some were silly, some were topically Australian, then the strategies became more darkly political and angry. There was a suggestion that all people who were not indigenous Australian should leave (the Country), this came a bit out of the blue and left me thinking - what? The strategy that struck the biggest chord with me was, how to leave a yoga class when you are paying a subscription! After each strategy the music gave the audience a cue with an annoying electronic refrain, but it got so that I looked forward to it after a while. After over 30 exit strategies I lost count. I imagined that the creative team had a lot of fun brainstorming all these ways to leave. Then it got stranger, a large screen presented Mish on a green screen wrapped in green fabric. I really enjoyed the montage on a huge screen of Mish at world landmarks, Australian big tourist ‘attractions’, Mish’s face was cleverly superimposed on any statue in these landmarks, while this was entertaining, I was left wondering how it fit into the rest of the show.

The poster describes Exit Strategies as; feminist, intersectional, angry and funny, but I really didn’t get that out of it. Yes, it was funny, and I got that Misha was angry sometimes, then I had to look up intersectional. (It was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2017. It's used to refer to the complex and cumulative way that the effects of different forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, and yes, intersect—especially in the experiences of marginalized people or groups), apologies if you already knew that. I have to ask myself, am I out of touch? Am I not sensitive enough to the nuances of discrimination and feminism? If I am then probably many people are, because I just didn’t get any deep meaning from the show, contrary to my expectations.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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