News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

Bali serves up whip-smart treat

Review: Bali, The Last Great Hunt ◆
Subiaco Arts Centre, 19 October ◆
Review by Nina Levy ◆

Living in WA it feels as if Bali is imprinted on our collective unconscious. Even if (like me) one has never actually been to Bali, one has a sense of the place; the tropical heat, the lush hotels, the Bintang. It’s this collective understanding of Bali that writers and performers Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs, of Perth theatre collective The Last Great Hunt, draw on in their latest work, Bali.

Bali is described as both a companion piece to Fowler and Isaacs’ Fag/Stag (2015, 2017), and a stand-alone work. In addition to not having been to Bali, I have not seen Fag/Stag. Post watching Bali I can report the following: 1) Bali works as a stand-alone piece. 2) I should have seen Fag/Stag.

Because Bali is terrific.

Following the fortunes of best friends Jimmy (Fowler) and Corgan (Isaacs), Bali takes place three years on from the events of Fag/Stag (for those who did see it). Now in their early thirties, Corgan is besotted with his girlfriend Sarah, while Jimmy is besotted with the dating app Scruff, “Grindr for men with beards.” In Bali to celebrate Corgan’s mum’s 60th, the pair navigate love in all its forms against the melange of lavish resorts, seedy nightclubs, tropical beauty and local poverty that is Bali.

It’s a simple set-up; a pair of bar stools, a table festooned with drinking debris, and a whip-smart script delivered at a cracking pace by Fowler and Isaacs. The fourth wall dissolves and reforms, creating three comically contentious perspectives. The laughs come thick and fast – sizzling one-liners tumble out in rapid succession – but more serious topics emerge from the fallout; the mortality of a parent; an abusive demon from Jimmy’s past, Balinese homes that are falling into the river thanks to the environmental impact of tourism. The final scene is bittersweet, tragicomic.

As Jimmy and Corgan, Fowler and Isaacs were outstanding on opening night, their timing and pacing (both comic and tragic) impeccable. The only downside was that occasionally lines couldn’t be heard over the audience’s laughter.

In summary? Ten out of ten. Would see it again.

Bali plays Subiaco Arts Centre until 28 October.

Pictured top and below: Jeffrey James Fowler and Chris Isaacs in ‘Bali’. Photos: Daniel James Grant.

 

 

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