16 Jan

There aren’t many shows in Sydney with a philosopher as one of characters. Alright, this is a clown version of a philosopher. Some people would say there’s no other sort. (An assertion which the rest of my response, with its usual intellectual pretensions, will no doubt provide supporting evidence.)

Penny Greenhalgh and Kate Walder’s Bad, directed by Scott Witt, is delightfully playful.

Cate Blanchett and Geoffery Rush are about to perform in that much under-rated classic, Mum Where’s my Bucket? However, due to unforeseen circumstances, the two great actors are now unavailable. Step in these two clowns. They find both the execution and the concept of acting challenging.

Photo by Yael Stempler

Photo by Yael Stempler

We usually assume the task of acting is difficult. That’s why we have the myth of the great actor, and fit people like Blanchett and Rush into it.

We don’t usually assume the concept of acting is problematic. We probably should. Pretending to be other people? Fine, if you can actually get your head around what other people are. Which is doubly difficult if you acknowledge you don’t really know who you are.

Bad is an exuberant, engaging subversion of our ideas about theatre.

Penny Greenhalgh’s philosopher is a gentle yet powerful parody of erudition and expertise.  Kate Walder’s stunt man is bouncy and almost irrepressible. He’s textured by the slightest hint of pathos. Dressed to be fired out of a cannon, and filled with the requisite thought-free positivity, just occasionally it seems he has intimations of his fate.

Both performers have a relaxed and deliberate imprecision. It’s as though their characters can’t keep up with the demands of the supposedly important roles they have accepted. This makes them joyfully human and the show a refreshing response to the over seriousness of theatre.

Veronica Kaye


Bad by Penny Greenhalgh and Kate Walder

Old Fitz til Jan 31st,  Late Sessions

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