Electronic City and Fatboy ... images by Bob Seary.


Electronic City, by Falk Richter | Fatboy, by John Clancy

New Theatre | Newtown, Sydney | Until 7 August

This is a wonderful evening at the theatre — a double bill of such quality, yet it is only running for three nights, so be quick!

It begins with Electronic City, written by Falk Richter, a critic of globalisation, who attacks the web of capitalism and our hyper-dependence on communications technology.

Directed by Ngaire O’Leary, it envisions a futuristic society in which the go-getters lack humane qualities and individuality.

It is a story of disorientation and helplessness ...  a reflective but distorted account of two individuals, Tom (Felix Jozeps) and Joy (Megan Holloway), who are brought together by chance.

Tom and Joy symbolise the affluent, ambitious, flourishing types in society who are misplaced and ensnared in routine without enjoyment (pun!).

Tom, a high-flying business executive, becomes lost. He is unable to recognise the city he is in, he has forgotten his codes and he is minus his electronic props, including his charger! Perplexed, he is always arriving, but never leaving.

Surrounding him are stock characters from his world ... people who act as a chorus, a collection of incomprehensible voices, monologues, interpretations, inner thoughts, reflections and recitation.

Joy is a casual employee in airport lounges around the globe. She melts down when her barcode scanner malfunctions.

Jozeps and Holloway display their comedy skills as they move effortlessly from scene to scene in a synchronised and stylized manner using physical language and sounds to portray the victims of globalisation. Their performance invokes perfectly the hysterics of urban living.

I remained totally engaged throughout this perfectly paced and produced play.

The second offering is Fatboy, John Clancy’s (writer, director and co-founder of the New York International Fringe Festival) award-winning satire inspired by Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, first seen in 1896.

It is political theatre and it is very rude and very crude, but very, very funny. Stylistically it is a burlesque Punch and Judy show with oversized characters that are absurd and surreal.

Fatboy (Doug Hansell) and his diabolical wife Fudgie (Jennifer White) live in squalor until Fudgie finally batters him into going to town to earn some money. There he embarks on a killing-and-robbing spree before returning home with a bloody shirt and a stash of cash.

As a result, Fatboy is on trial for crimes against humanity. The court scene is a send-up of political justice, with the drunken judge (Luke Carson) and miserable prosecutor (Matt Charleston) superbly enacting the farcical ignorance of contemporary global politics which morphs into Fatboy’s ambition to conquer the world.

Finally, in a humorous Shakespearean parody, Fatboy becomes ruler of the world in which he discovers he has consumed everything, pigs and wheat included. Fudgie ambitiously orchestrates an attempted assassination and in the end everybody dies.

Adam Chantler's cartoonish set pays homage to the play’s puppet roots, supporting the meta-theatricality, with white-face actors asking permission to leave the stage so they can change costume for their next role.

Hansell’s performance as Fatboy and White’s Fudgie make all this work. Waddling around in his fatsuit, Hansell makes a dynamic and repulsive monster, loveable with his savage clowning. Fudgie is hideous and grotesque, but we love her too.

These are two of the best performances I have seen on the Australian stage in the past decade.