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Review: Your Mother Chucks Rocks And Shells at Trades Hall (Corner Store) - Melbourne Fringe

Review By Tessa Stickland

Well, if you haven’t seen William Friedkin’s 1973 horror classic The Exorcist, this show might… still actually makes sense! Because I haven’t seen it. And it is heavily referenced throughout Ange Lavoipierre’s Your Mother Chucks Rocks And Shells (heck, the title is even a mondegreen of a famous line from the film). But I still got what was going on. Moreover, I enjoyed it and engaged with it beyond just “getting it” at a surface level.

Lavoipierre ends the show saying something along the lines of, “Good luck explaining this to anyone. Because even after touring this show, I don’t think I know what it’s about.”

I immediately thought, “Hmm, I might need the luck on this one”.

Not so much because I can’t explain it – but because I’m unsure of how to do it justice. Because I thoroughly enjoyed this blend of narrative and sketch.

Your Mother Chucks Rocks And Shells follows the story of Ange as she desperately tries to fall asleep at two in the morning. She tries every method under the sun, getting distracted along the way.

The audience is strung along on a ride between different YouTube videos and websites and cringe memories – all, of course, acted out by Lavoipierre (no screens, just her and some voice overs). And, occasionally, Ange gets a tiny glimpse of the land of nod; and we get to see into her dreams. But she inevitably wakes again. And it’s still 2am.

She keeps coming back to these dreams. Starting them off as “deleted scenes” from the movie. (Not having seen it, I’m left to assume they’re totally imagined. And get further and further away from the ‘reality’ of the film as she goes on). At first I thought The Exorcist reference might be a one and done moment. But she comes back to it time and time again. It ends up forming the structural backbone of the show.

I was an Arts student at university. Creative writing with a focus on popular culture, screen studies, and literary analysis. So, despite never having seen The Exorcist, this is right up my alley.

Firstly, I am practised at engaging with a text I haven’t actually read/seen (shh, don’t tell my old teachers).

Secondly, I have a wide enough grasp on pop culture that I have a good frame of reference for The Exorcist. Most people probably do. Girl gets possessed. She swears and her head turns around and it’s creepy. There are priests and an exorcism. (Lavoipierre fills in any crucial gaps you may have in your knowledge anyway).

Thirdly, I’m a greedy little goblin for weird textual reanalysis and regurgitation. For all things adaptation!

Lavoipierre’s use of The Exorcist reminds me of Australian author Tom Cho. (This is probably a deep cut reference? I only know of his work because of uni readings. But, if you know, you know!). The similarity lies in their use of pop culture texts for their own means: cannibalising and reconstituting existing works for humour and self-exploration. I love it. Plus, there is something in the writing styles too. Cho writes in a particularly performative way (for the written word, at least). And both use narration expertly inviting the audience into their own worlds.

Your Mother Chucks Rocks And Shells is filled with a cast of fantastic characters including: our protagonist, Ange (a (presumably) characterised version of Lavoipierre); a French accented Brain; a sexily voiced embodiment of The Internet; an ASMRtist; the demon Pazuzu; and more!

Lavoipierre embodies each character distinctly. Especially the ASMR goblin. That was a particular joy to witness. Though, towards the end, I did find that Pazuzu and one of the priests did lose a bit of clarity. It might have been intentional? Or it could be because I haven’t seen the source material. Though, as it is deep into the show, it could be a mistake from a dip in stamina. But that’s nitpicking at otherwise stellar character work.

Your Mother Chucks Rocks And Shells is at once hilarious and dramatic. Balancing moments of pathos with absurdity.

Lavoipierre says she doesn’t know what this show is about. I think it’s about the struggle to care for one’s self; the desire to be one’s true self freely, without judgement; and how weird the name ‘Regan’ is for a little girl. Of course, it’s about more than that. Or maybe none of that – or maybe it’s just about worm demons from Hell – but that’s what stands out for me.

Lavoipierre said she might not tour this show again, so if you love comedy-ish theatre or theatre-ish comedy: see it while you still can!

Image Supplied


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