Jeffrey Jay Fowler’s screechingly funny, woeful D*ck Pics in the Garden of Eden means what it says, David Zampatti discovers.
D*ck Pics in the Garden of Eden, The Last Great Hunt ·
Subiaco Arts Centre, 18 November 2022 ·
Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the World, and all our woe.
Paradise Lost: Book I
Jeffrey Jay Fowler has the wayest with words of all the stars that make up the firmament of local theatre company The Last Great Hunt. He’s also industrious, cunning, and inclined to take the line of least resistance.
So you’ve got to be careful with his work. What you see is not necessarily what you get, and never, in his prolific career, has this been truer than in his new play D*ck Pics in the Garden of Eden.
In it, Fowler has recreated the Original World, and filled it with strange creatures and mortals with extravagant genitalia, some of which they carry around like sex toys.
It’s a screechingly funny place, this Garden of Eden.
Adam (David Vickman and later Ben Sutton) and Eve (Arielle Gray and later Jo Morris) explore each other and themselves with guileless wonder, but there’s a snake (Iya Ware) and forbidden fruit, and somewhere in the vicinity, a Dad, who, as Gray hilariously tells us, is prone to go the “smite”.
Despite all the bizzarity and sexy time hijinks, Fowler sticks pretty close to his Milton, especially when it comes to the “all our woe” bit. Because life outside Eden, in the Garden of Suburbia, isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Not by a long shot.
Eve feels it first, when the presence of Adam’s ex, the demonic, wanton Lillith (Gray, and later Ware), unsettles her.
Lillith, made from the same mud as Adam, abandoned Eden, refusing to be subservient to him (it seems he insisted on being on top). Adam’s rationalisation of Lillith’s prior existence is as confusing to her as it must have been to all the scholars who exorcised her from their bibles.
To make matters much worse, as Adam and a slew of sportsmen and politicians have found to their cost, there’s a dick pic doing the rounds.
Into this morass of Sodom and Gomorramy stumbles an Everyman, shamelessly named Dick Dickson (Chris Isaacs), complete with delusional ambition to be a stand-up comedian, and an unremarkable penis.
Despite his underwhelming attributes, Dick attracts the interest of both Lillith and Cain, Adam and Eve’s first surviving child, condemned for his famous fratricide to a lifetime of wandering that has landed him in the languid arms of the fallen Lucifer (Vickman).
If Fowler is unsure about his material, it’s in his characterisation of that old devil, who seems to have slouched away from Heaven rather than fallen from it in fire, and doesn’t seem to be any more threatening, or even engaged, down here.
The same could be said of Lulu (Joanna Tu), the overshadowed daughter of Adam and Eve, who is much put upon, very committed, very sad, but serves mainly to introduce a secondary theme revolving around the individual’s sovereign right to their own body.
In this Garden, sadness is the original sin, but sex, of and about which there is much in D*ck Pics, offers no absolution. When a character says “I don’t want it inside me anymore”, they aren’t talking about cocks.
One of the great joys of going on a Last Great Hunt is that how they do it is often just as fascinating as what they do. D*ck Pics has all the verve and theatrical humour of their very best productions, from set and costume designer Maili Cherel’s wild menagerie of Eden’s creatures to the sheen provided by composer Rachel Claudio and designers Connor Brown (sound) and Rhiannon Petersen (lighting).
Tight close-up images of the characters, skilfully captured by the cast on videocams and screens around and behind the stage, seem to take you inside their thoughts and feelings with an intimacy that is a counterpoint to the panorama of the physical setting.
The cast, precisely wrangled by Fowler’s direction, is exemplary; Gray and Isaacs are Last Great Hunt core artists and have an innate feel for its matter, manner and method, while the experienced Morris and Sutton do much of the play’s heavy lifting as the grown-up, beaten-down First Couple. Robinson raises Cain, Ware is, among other roles, a formidable Lillith, and Tu and Vickman make the most of their characters (Vickman’s cameo as the young, priapic Adam is a hoot).
When God (the busy Vickman) finally arrives in this morose world (by mistake, it turns out – they downloaded the wrong file and wound up in “the other universe”) their sympathy for its inhabitants is wise enough, but hardly empathetic: “ I know your pain, Adam. But it’s only pain”.
There’s no place for God in Eden.
Pictured top are Arielle Grey and Ben Sutton in ‘D*ck Pics in the Garden of Eden’. Photo: Daniel J Grant
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