110% Average

21 Sep

This production is audacious and gloriously silly (and plenty of people value audacity, especially of the I-can’t-believe-you’re-letting-yourself-look-like-such-a-dag-on-stage sort.)

Anita Lovell tells her “coming of average” story, outlining her discovery of enjoyment and security in not being especially good at a whole host of activities. The glorious silliness comes from the fact Lovell enacts the routines she performed in childhood – trampolining, roller skating, gymnastics, etc.

Lovell has great comic delivery and a joy inducing commitment to the physicality.

For me, at least, the show raises some rather big questions. I’m inclined to feel we should pursue excellence, but this production aligns more with the views of Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut was one of those great geniuses who never won the Nobel Prize, and his advice is famous: “Practice any art—music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage—no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.” In contrast, my view has more in common with that of the geniuses behind Fast and Furious 7 (inexplicably also denied the Nobel.) The soundtrack of their film features the lyrics  “Go hard or go home”.

The pursuit of excellence is inspiring, while the rejection of it, though hardly immoral, is of little relevance to anyone else… and to yourself might merely be a pastime.

But, assuming being average is not just a euphemism for being not very good at something, being average is a comparative statement. It’s about competition.

Plenty of human activities are not competitive. When you choose ones that are performative, you invite judgement. (I’m not suggesting you deserve it.)

So, in a way, the show is an exuberant assertion of independence, a mischievous reclamation of art from the tyranny of evaluation, and a teasing reminder, that in the rejection of some values, their residual will remain. (See my above comments about audacity.)

Paul Gilchrist

110% Average by Anita Lovell

Boom Boom Room as part of the Sydney Fringe (until 24 Sept)


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