Appetite: A post-critical review

Irony and humour are close neighbours, but they should not be confused. The Anglo-Saxons have a humorous vision of that enormous ennui which characterizes their social life, and which raises fears for the future of ‘industrial society’. They need this sense of humour; it makes boredom bearable. Humour can soften a situation, then go on its way. Humour manages to metamorphose the ennui of everyday life – almost. It may fail to transform it completely, but it makes it more decorative, and so henceforth the man who is bored can at least find his boredom enjoyable. He lives a life of well-being without pressing problems and devoid of all romance, and he cannot decide whether to feel comfortable or merely bored, a dilemma for which humour offers him a kind of solution. In any sociology of boredom, the study of Anglo-Saxon humour would bulk large.
– Henri Lefebvre, Introduction to Modernity

TWO. Attempts at an angle.
1. The formalist: it was not a brave fusion of physical and text-based theatre. It was a simple dinner drama with some dance tacked on.
2. The feminist: if we are meant to sympathise with a woman who has it all without feeling in any way fulfilled, shouldn’t we know more about her than her wealth and real estate situation? Shouldn’t we know, at least, what her job is? Doesn’t one find most basic meaning of life, sense of purpose in the work one does? Not if one’s a woman, Ross?
3. The logocentric: hasn’t this type of drama been done to death, from 19th-century to Albee? Haven’t we said everything there is to be said about failed dinner parties, about seemingly casual socialisation that implodes into tragedy? Shouldn’t we at least try to surpass The Doll’s House?
4. The social commentator: why did all the mainstream media reviews seem glowing? Why was there a strong applause at the end of every performance? The abyss between the theatre lordforgive community and the general public never seemed greater.

I dislike unsolicited wit, and will not even attempt to describe everything that went wrong with this show. It has been done, with both despair and zesty bitterness.

But shall we view it as an exposé of a mindset? Sugary music over vacuously clever lines of dialogue. False problems, false solutions. Every smart cliché of a society was laid bare, through shoddy execution, as nothing but vacuous placebo. We will get over existential misery by living every day like we’re falling in love!, we will play autistic music, and hold hands.

This is Haneke without the outside world ever shattering the walls. Instead, a momentary illusion of escape, a failed conclusion bound to bring nothing but further misery. The audience applauds, and learns another way to delusion. What a strangely thorough failure of insight.


Warnings: Simulated Drug Use, Full Frontal Nudity, Cigarette smoking – nicotine free, Adult themes, Strong coarse language.
– MIAF, program notes

Melbourne International Arts Festival. Appetite. Directed by Kate Denborough. Writer: Ross Mueller. Dramaturg: Brett Adam. Composer & Musician: New Buffalo. Set Design: Kennedy Nolan Architects. Costume Design: Paula Levis. Performers: Michelle Heaven, Brian Lucas, Catherine McClements, Carlee Mellow, James Saunders & Gerard Van Dyck. KAGE at the Arts Centre. Season hopefully ended.

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