‘Captivating’ Woodward danced with Kafka’s metamorphosis

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Joe Woodward’s Trinculo

“The Metamorphosis”, a “phantom gravity” production at Smiths Alternative, September 22. Reviewed by ARNE SJOSTEDT.

JOE Woodward is undoubtedly one of Canberra’s alternative theatre icons.

His work constantly pushes his audience to question the work of theatre and their role as spectators. In his program notes for the production, which saw him assume his now famous alter-ego of Shakespeare’s Trinculo, Woodward challenged audiences to be aware of their first impulses.

Woodward was instantly captivating, as he drew the audience in to the world of Kafka’s bug. In a distilled, adaptive reflection or reinterpretation, punctuated with moments that pulled viewers out of the classic tale’s framework back into the present time and place, Woodward skilfully, at times hesitantly, danced with Kafka’s well-known model of metamorphosis.

Next, Jolene Mifsud took the stage joined by a band, and commenced a tale of Mifsud’s Maltese-Australian roots, a journey into use of marijuana and acid as a teenager, which transformed into a full blown methamphetamine addiction. Mifsud plotted a tale that took in failed and destructive romances, Mifsud’s exposure to the alternative world of the LGBTQIA+ community in Sydney, and a long and adaptive journey of self-discovery, recovery and reinvention.

Mifsud’s tale was a brave, volatile and vulnerable presentation of a life lived at the mercy of self-destruction, addiction and discovery. With Mifsud’s biographical text gaining momentum and interspersed with songs, Mifsud and band left the room having successfully blown a sense of the transcendent positive power of hope, for those willing to leap into that transformative journey of honest self-reflection and discovery.

Closing the evening, Sophia Marzano gave her interpretation of the Judy Garland sung classic “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. Commencing the performance with a glass of wine in hand, struggling to bring herself to get the words out, the connections to the destructive life of Garland herself were strong. The analogy of wanting to fly over the rainbow to a better place struggled against the negative emotions of the singer’s present moment, as the context of that powerful song that made Garland so famous clashed up against the life of addiction and depression that pursued her afterwards.

Yet amidst her struggle, Marzano managed to deliver an arresting rendition of the tune, that climbed past the pit of whatever despair was imploding within, to shine a light into the beauty that is not so impossible to experience, even within the depths of pain.

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