Bus Boy
News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

Nuanced and intense: a wonderful back-to-back billing

Review: Rorschach Beast, Bus Boy and Static Drive Co, Tissue ·
Subiaco Arts Centre, 20 June ·
Review by Steven Cohen ·

The frailty of human connection haunts both Rorschach Beast’s Bus Boy and Static Drive Co’s Tissue. Written and produced by two sets of talented local writers and production companies and staged for the Subiaco Theatre Festival, this back-to-back billing works to contrast the nuances of friendship with the intensity of sex.

With characters positioned on stage as the audience entered the auditorium, and disembowelled bicycle parts hanging from above, it seemed likely from the outset that Bus Boy would be an immersive experience. And so it was.

Produced by local theatre company Rorschach Beast, and written by and starring Izzy McDonald with a marvellous performance by Sean Guastavino, Bus Boy explores themes such as coming of age, sexual abuse and human connection through the lens of Bus Boy (Guastavino), a young man with Asperger’s syndrome, and a slightly manipulative “older” woman, Gerry (McDonald).

The play is set on Rottnest and local theatre goers will be aware of the juxtaposition of the island’s long and dark history with its reputation as a summer playground. This sits neatly with Gerry’s wild abandon and the super-laced restraint of Bus Boy.

An intense and personal affair, the play carefully treads the line between banal platitude and common cliché. With subtlety and nuance aplenty, the work allows the audience to walk away with all kinds of lessons, from the fragility and danger of youth to the importance of growing up and embracing what it means to be an adult.

Isn’t that what the theatre is for?

Tissue
Although there are only three characters on stage, ‘Tissue’ is bursting with humanity. L-R: Ann-Marie Biagioni, Jess Moyle and Samjey Hayes.

The second play, aptly named Tissue, and written by two WAAPA graduates, Timothy Green and Samantha Nerida, differentiated itself from the austere seductiveness of Bus Boy with its overt drama, making for an effective evening’s programming.

Originally staged in 2016 at Perth’s Blue Room Theatre, Tissue borrows from seventeenth century theatre to brazenly confront the themes of contemporary love and sex.

In this gratuitous but sometimes tender and funny exposition of the lives of a young couple, we are greeted by two protagonists (Samjey Hayes and Jess Moyle), and also a fifth business*, played by the talented Ann-Marie Biagioni.

Using sex and relationships, Biagoni’s character probes both protagonists by engaging them in a chorus dialogue. This technique blends old with new, to construct an intense and fertile philosophical disquisition on our enjoyment of pornography, its relationship to our own sexual selves and the inherent instincts to keep these thoughts secret.

Sex and love are on full display. Tissue examines so many affairs of the heart that the play gains a giddy momentum, climaxing in a frenzied amalgam of broken hearts and sweaty bodies. By the end you may feel dizzy and over-sensitized to the whirlpool that is young romance. Although there are only three characters on stage, the play is bursting with humanity, making it appear much larger than it is, and illustrating our own delicate sexuality.

The play charts Alex (Hayes) and Zoe’s (Moyle) romantic relationship. Taking a course that neither intended, the play morphs into a hotbed (no pun intended) of frayed lives. Spanning about twelve months, at a time when youth permits such infinite change, the characters explore the possibility of being someone other than themselves.

From the rapture of love, to the dissonance of porn, Tissue takes us on a wild ride. You can’t help but feel compassion for the characters as they bumble about fearlessly searching for loving attachments, but coming up empty handed.

Two wonderfully synchronistic performances, well worth seeing.

 

* A “fifth business” is an old theatrical term, used to describe a character who is neither hero nor villain, but nonetheless crucial for revealing the plot.

Bus Boy plays Subiaco Arts Centre until June 23.

Tissue plays Subiaco Arts Centre until June 23.

Pictured top: Izzy McDonald and Sean Guastavino in ‘Bus Boy’.

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Samjey-Hayes-Jess-Nyanda-Moyle-Ann-Marie-Biagioni-4-5b27d5b360e91
Calendar, June 18, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: Tissue

20-23 June @ Subiaco Arts Centre ·
Presented by Static Drive Co ·

We’re overstimulated, oversexed and oversexualised: We’re completely under prepared. From the minds of Timothy Green and Samantha Nerida comes this invitation to join two lovers as they navigate this fraught path of sex, lies and camera phones.

Tissue confronts secrecy vs privacy and intimacy vs entertainment with an explosive chorus of Perth actors and red-hot energy. It’s a love story, it’s a tragedy, it’s a challenge, and we’re not afraid to show a little skin.

But focus, folks. We want you to watch with your brains as well as your bits. This show is an interrogation of shame culture, intimacy and communication, questioning the effect porn has on young Australians. If we strip away stigma, does the ‘sin’ lie in the products themselves, or the way we talk about them?

Premiering at The Blue Room Theatre in 2016 to rave reviews, Tissue is back and bolder than ever. The latest work from Static Drive Co, Tissue is a sexy show with a spotlight pointed right at your browser history.

More info: www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/subiaco-arts-centre/whats-on/tissue/
Email: hello@staticdriveco.com

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Samantha Nerida and Timothy Green
News, Performing arts, Theatre

Dirty little secrets

Porn is our collective dirty little secret… or is it? In the play Tissue, local theatre company Static Drive Co is asking, “If we strip away the stigma, does the sin lie in the products themselves, or the way we talk about them?”

First presented at the Blue Room in 2016, Tissue will play Subiaco Arts Centre as part of the 2018 Subiaco Theatre Festival this June. Nina Levy chatted to Tissue’s directors, Timothy Green and Samantha Nerida, ahead of the work’s return season.

Nina Levy: For those of us who didn’t see the first incarnation of Tissue, tell us about the work.
Timothy Green: Tissue follows the relationship between Zoe and Alex, from their first encounter, through the beautiful, messy, sometimes uncomfortable ups and downs that they experience, navigating sex, intimacy, and camera phones.
Samantha Nerida: It’s cheeky, and it’s complicated, and I think it’s a really fun powerhouse of a show.

NL: What made you decide to tackle the subject of porn and its effects on relationships?
SN: I first got hooked on this topic in my second year of WAAPA, during a time of growth and change and learning in my personal life. I was frustrated with the way people equivocated porn and shame, and the embarrassment people were made to feel about their sexual choices and interests.
TG: When Sam approached me to develop her original work into a full-length piece in 2016 we conducted a survey, and the amount of people who referenced pornography as contributing to a large portion of their “sex ed.” was really astounding. Ideally, we want to start healthy conversations.

NL: For those who did see Tissue 1.0, how will this year’s production differ from the original?
TG: The story of Zoe and Alex remains the same, but we are really excited for new sound design, some new sections of script, and two new performers. The original production of Tissue was also presented in traverse, whereas we will be presenting this season front-on to the audience.
SN: We’d love to have the audience staring at each other during our raunchier scenes, but that’s the price you pay for a festival setup!

NL: What led the two of you to collaborate? 
TG: Sam and I studied together at WAAPA, and during those three years we became really great friends, as well as having the chance to work together quite a few times. Although we have quite different approaches to making work, when we collaborate there is a middle ground that I think really pops. I am so lucky to be able to work with someone that I admire, respect and love hanging out with as much as Sam.
SN: Aw, shucks. Yeah, it’s a brilliant working relationship to have. I’m all about the words and the story, and Tim is one of the most talented visual makers I’ve ever met, so when we combine those skills I think we come up with something pretty neat.

Together with Haydon Wilson, the two of you co-founded Static Drive Co last year. Tell us about the company…
TG: Forming Static Drive Co really felt like a natural progression for the three of us. We had all been working together in various capacities for a couple of years since graduating from WAAPA, and forming a company has been really motivating, as well as giving us a platform to present work, the ability to brand ourselves and articulate the kind of work we want to make.
SN: Although our first few works have been playing it a bit safe, we’re really excited to use Static Drive Co as a base to make immersive and interactive works, and eventually move away from more traditional theatrical practices. But first, Tissue! 

Tissue plays Subiaco Arts Centre 20-23 June.

Pictured top are Timothy Green and Samantha Nerida.

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