[Published in the Age, October 26 2012]
A glass tank constructed from one-way mirrors houses a group of child actors. They are seemingly unaware of the audience looking on, but their youthful inhibition is short-lived: an omniscient Big Brother soon informs them of our presence and commands them to grow up already.
Before our very eyes they age in fast-forward, careening from angst-ridden teens to hunched geriatrics over the course of the performance.
Gob Squad remain fascinated with the performance possibilities of video, like Super Night Shot that toured here last year. Two screens flank the stage, playing interviews with the children when the production began and real-time footage from an onstage camera. Their senescence becomes less absurd when we realise how much they’ve changed since these initial recordings. Future selves are interrogated, berated for their actions and urged to remember their past. As teenagers the world is filled with promise, but regrets pile up with the years.
They may be kids in bad wigs playing dress ups, but at certain angles they appear uncannily adult.
Things aren’t all melancholy though: there’s several riotous dance sequences set to swelling pop songs. Gob Squad maintain a balance between humour and poignancy, between exuberance and despondence, throughout.
When death comes these children sprint gleefully towards it, dancing all the way to the dark.
Currently showing at the Malthouse, Merlyn Theatre, until October 27.