There is theatre that makes you want to see more theatre. There is theatre that makes you want to perform more theatre. There is theatre that makes you want to design more theatre. There is theatre that makes you want to write more theatre. Izzy Roberts Orr’s It’s Happening in the Space Between My Face and Yours is theatre that makes you want to do a little bit of each.
When a young woman named Jack goes missing from her inner- Melbourne share house, her roommates are at a loss. They can’t contact their friend. They can’t pay the rent. They can’t resolve their various sexual tensions. They can’t deal with the vacuous RIP messages their acquaintances are posting on Facebook. They can’t ride their fixies too far at night, can’t roll their cigarettes, can’t fill the void. They can’t drink the soymilk because the replacement roomie is relentlessly stealing it. Said soy-thief can’t even describe the new musical direction his band is taking.
Meanwhile, the audience is sporadically confronted by a sullen-faced Jack (Jennifer Speirs), back from beyond the grave to deliver ever-more graphic monologues on her experience of death. The stage is also flanked constantly by two ever-vigilant, ever-scathing ‘wolves’ (Tom Molyneux & Meagan Lawrie), who wait their turn to spit threats and obscenities that embody the sense of fear permeating through the story. Mesmerising and penetrative, they might be distracting were their purpose not so emblematic.
Co-presented by MUST and Spare Room, It’s Happening ran as part of the Fringe Festival at Sketch and Tulip Café/Bar in North Melbourne. The upstairs space lent itself to the dingy rawness of the show. Precarious piles of chairs in either corner of the stage sank into the brick backdrop seamlessly, and the transformative door cum table cum bed looked as if it belonged to the venue. Dim lighting threw appropriately eerie shadows across the floorboards, and across an LED sign to one side of the set ran a series of alternately lyrical and blunt observations relating to each scene (because what’s a Fringe show without a bit of Brecht?)
First-time director Nick Fry, also responsible for the lighting and set design, deserves commendation for his efforts, and kudos similarly go to sound designer James Hogan, who successfully matched the audience’s eardrums and heart rates with the characters’.
I’m not saying it’s the most polished piece of theatre – it’s not. Some scenes were rather clunky, and some characters appeared two-dimensional and under-developed. That said, the entire cast was infuriatingly attractive so I’m willing to suggest that these flaws were merely representative of the kind of ungainly squalor and haughty individuals that every good twenty-something share house encounters.
Reeking of poeticism and finesse, the script was penned by the talented and charming Izzy Roberts-Orr, who, whilst gratified with the production, promises to take the show back to the workshop for reinvigoration before a second season sometime in the future or so.
Surreal and visceral, It’s Happening in the Space Between My Face and Yours is at its core an exploration of sex and death, à la hipsterdom. The tagline says it best: “We love. We fuck. We live. We survive. We’re afraid.”