a show that rips up all the rules... restless, utterly original indie performance..

TITANIC Review: MKA and Doppelgangster’s punk play on disaster film captures sinking feeling at the polls

AUGUST 4, 2017

Doppelgangster & MKA: Theatre of New Writing
Siteworks, 33 Saxon Street, Brunswick
Until July 8

Punk performance art inspired by James Cameron’s 1997 disaster film Titanic? What better to capture the mood of the nation on the eve of the federal election?

There’s probably no way of describing Doppelgangster​’s Titanic that couldn’t easily apply to the ballot result. A surreal and satirical rage against the machine, it’s a show that rips up all the rules and delivers some uncomfortable surprises, even if the message is a bit incoherent in its defiance.

Theatrical saboteurs Tobias Manderson-Galvin and Tom Payne have built a suitably epic outdoor set for sinking the blockbuster’s aesthetic. A shipping container flanked by a step-pyramid of fibrous bricks, a constantly weeping sheet of stage rain, buckets of icy water arranged in front.

It begins by setting fire to a puddle. Manderson-Galvin emerges as director James Cameron in full ship’s captain attire, Payne is dressed as Leonardo DiCaprio​.

They proceed to spew forth a torrent of words: low-key personal anecdotes about the pressure to see the movie everyone else has seen, Dadaist rants cribbed from the  Titanic DVD’s special features, poetic intimations of refugees on leaky boats, and subversions of the film script that skewer and suburbanise romantic convention, as Jules Pascoe’s percussive post-rock score blares throughout.

This may be an anti-epic, and the freezing midwinter night made the audience feel like the iceberg of the piece, but Titanic still delivers lashings of the brazen monumentality it lampoons. At one point, Payne ploughs a car into the seating bank, forcing the audience to pick up chairs and flee. And there’s a nude scene from Manderson-Galvin – a blow by blow description would be unpublishable, and I wouldn’t want to ruin it anyway – that’s pure hilarity.

Sure, there’s a puerile aspect to Titanic’s humour, and large chunks of the show converge on some underworld where post-dramatic and post-taste theatre converge, but it’s also very funny in a baffling, offbeat way. It’s the kind of restless, utterly original indie performance Melbourne used to have a lot more of.

“restless, utterly original indie performance”
“Theatrical saboteurs.”