If you are already familiar with Christos Tsiolkas’ fiction, you know that his characters often live in a world of hurt and are their own worst enemies. They also tend to have hair-trigger tempers and are prone to violent outbursts. Armed with this knowledge makes seeing the play easier, though it is still harsh at times.  Merciless Gods has been adapted by Dan Giovannoni from the Tsiolkas book of the same title and merciless is an understatement.

Little Ones Theatre specialises in theatre that aims to (among other things) subvert traditional theatre practices, Merciless Gods achieves this objective with aplomb featuring eight separate stories. A mother shocks with a rejection of the domestic and scornfully details how fully her teenage son disgusts her; another mother mourns when she discovers her son in a gay porn video. A group of young adults play a dangerous game of retribution, then another mother once again rejects domestic goddess status and lives freely as an artist, the Madonna figure eagerly knocked aside in favour of a more earthy and flawed model. A junkie re-writes his history with a former lover to include a tender ending, making the memory of their union more palatable.

Performances were stunning and the group worked well with intense interaction that looked set to explode in several scenes. Highlights included Jennifer Vuletic whose androgynous appearance saw her playing both mother and father, in separate, unrelated scenes. Her portrayal of a German writer enduring an unsolicited visit from her daughter is spell-binding as she paces the floor with a belligerent grace.

Through his writing, Christos Tsiolkas makes damning observations of Australian culture, he rejects our parochial attitudes and exposes the many hypocrisies of the lucky country – a term that is not applicable to all of its inhabitants. Ultimately Tsiolkas stories usually veer into a very grim place and Merciless Gods is no exception. The humour in the work is sharp and scathing, but by the end the promised festivities of Little Ones were barely merry. Completely absorbing performances compensated for this lack of cheer though, this adaptation by Dan Giovannoni transfixed with distinct echoes of Tsiolkas’ graphic depictions of rage and grief.

 

Featuring: Paul Blenheim, Brigid Gallacher, Sapidah Kian, Peter Paltos, Charles Purcell and Jennifer Vuletic.

Creative/Tech Team: Dan Giovannoni (writer), Stephen Nicolazzo (director), Eugyeene Teh (set & costume design), Katie Sfetkidis (lighting design), Daniel Nixon (sound & compostion), Chris Mead (dramaturgy), Brianna-Lee Wade (stage manager), John Callopy (lighting assistant), Rebecca Poulter (production manager & tour co-ordinator) and Georgia McKay (publicity).

Merciless Gods is on until 25 November and is presented by Griffin Theatre in conjunction with Little Ones Theatre, for more information and tickets see: http://www.griffintheatre.com.au/

above image by Sarah Walker

 

This Month in Sydney

1 Sept - 30 Sept

Sydney Fringe 2018

various venues City

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This year the Sydney Fringe turns nine. Over the past eight years we have invested in our model, carved out a slice of territory for ourselves on the annual arts calendar and found our voice. While we have been rapidly expanding our international profile, and welcoming more artists from across the seas, our voice remains uniquely Sydney. First and foremost, we are here to highlight, amplify and promote the work of local Sydney based artists to the world.

Sydney’s is a brave, new, imaginative, challenging and experimental voice. Our artists push the boundaries of genre, art form and innovation. Each year we work with our community to transform the landscape of our city into unique experiences not found in Sydney at any other time of the year. From activating unused buildings, unlocking hidden gems and presenting major outdoor activations, the Sydney Fringe Festival connects you to the city in new ways. We are an annual snapshot of how Sydney feels, where we are and where we are heading. It’s new, it’s now and 2018 is shaping up to be bolder than ever before.

Kerri Glasscock
Festival Director & CEO