Review By Darcy Rock
It’s the 6 o’clock news as you’ve never seen it before. Two journalists take on the dilemma of maintaining ratings and interested viewers while bringing bad news on a budget. It’s raw, it’s dark, it’s absurd, saucy and full of song and tragedy. How will the duo make the cut? What will they need to do to impress their producers and keep their beloved sponsors? How will they capture the hearts and attention spans of a televised audience enough to keep their jobs and make… money?
Resistible is a dark comedy that brings together the talents of upcoming writer, performer and theatre-makers Abigail Banister-Jones and Oliver Ayres. As both are not new to the stages of Fringe, they come alive in this cabaret produced by Katie Head and bring a comfortability to the performance that is natural and easy to watch. Performed in the Butterfly Club’s intimate and eclectic downstairs theatre, the space evokes a sense of the backstage and as we watch the show unfold we feel involved in their backstage as they mull over how they are going to pull the programming off. What enriches this sense of the backstage, is the small segment of audience participation and various instances of breaking the fourth wall. It feels intimate and a perfect space to follow the duo on their plight.
They unpack the nature of news using comparisons to tragic theatre and metaphors that undercut difficult topics with humour. Their efforts are mostly trial and error and this is entertaining. It felt to me like we were taught how to make news compelling, what it requires and a visual marking of that success by a counter that is projected like a high school PowerPoint presentation onto an adjacent wall. It all feels very underground and like the complete opposite of the overproduction of news channels and online media that we are so used to. The performance is almost improvisational which in a sense allows room in the production for the unexpected, for audience participation and for things to go wrong, while keeping the performers at ease and definitely adding to the genuineness, while perhaps a little daring. Overall the show doesn’t over-complicate itself, it feels like the performers have a good sense of their abilities and what they know they can bring to their performance.
Both Bannister-Jones and Ayres stood on their own singing their well-written tunes and with the inclusion of various instrumentation, it was well-paced and added to the sense that this was their desperate plight to impress. They would pull out all the stops to make those ratings. Their song Tragedy was hooky and the equivalent of a theme tune of our modern dystopic lives. Aside from this, the costuming and makeup is understated. The pair are mime-clad with black and white clothing and make-up with the exception of pink blushed cheekbones. It feels like a last-minute pull together of the nightly news, but this is authentic to their story and characterisation.
In our world of the alluring, the must-haves, the capitalistic onslaught of everything in excess and all at once, it’s not often the term ‘resistible’ is seen or heard as much as it’s counterpart. That which can be resisted is usually boring or ‘old’ news, however not in this case. The performance was refreshing and it’s irresistibility was delivered by the charismatic performers who were clever in their creation of this absurdly lighthearted tragedy.