There is nothing like a road trip to highlight personality
traits and set the scene for a battle between the small domestic world
established in the car interior and the big bad world outside the windows of
that private space.
So, a white Volvo and a domestic spat and a potentially
loving resolution in a dark and lonely rural setting provides the perfect seed for
a road drama.
In a brilliant piece of self reflective immersive theatre,
digital art outfit The Farm, invites audiences to attend the drama in their own
cars, circled around the paddock with their FM radio and headlights as an
integral part of the theatre experience.
The scene is set as soon as you turn up, and the experience
builds gradually as you queue in your cars, test the radio connection, are
reminded of your relationship with the car and are instructed in the etiquette
of this post-modern drive in theatre.
When the play begins, you have actually been transported
into the lonely, rural, roadside night where the drama takes place. The couple
in the car in front of you reflect the (mostly) couples in the car that form
That the drama involves a series of familiar, even cliched road
centred scenarios only strengthens the trope that you are in the play, that the
play is exactly what you expect to see, in the same way that the familiar
components of the horror thriller, provide comfort and fear at the same time.
So, the play takes our couple through the dramas of a lone
attacker, a pedestrian accident, a gang of motorcycle riders and a zombie
apocalypse. As the action expands out from the paddock that is the stage into
the circle of cars that is the audience, the suspension of disbelief into which
we all surrendered early in the process immerses you thoroughly into the action.
I sweated with fear, my skin crawled in anticipation at the same time as I
laughed at the neighbouring theatre goers giggling hysterically in their
As well as the rich conceptual layering of the play itself,
the physical acting borders on the incredible. Actors emulating accident
victims float and jerk unrealistically in your headlights, slight young women
bundle giant zombies into the Volvo boot, one actors walks another along the
doors of the car so they fall in through an open window, this is magic rendered
in a paddock with a minimum of sets.
This is fully realised modern theatre in the making. It
combines digital technology, immersive experience, physical theatre and layered
The play is Throttle, the venue is the Mudgeeraba
Showgrounds, the production company is The Farm and tickets are available
through Bleach, the Gold Coast Arts Festival. The play is sold out, so you will
not get the chance to see it this time round but I’m sure you will have that
chance in the future. This is too good to disappear into the ether without
spawning other appeareances, derivative works or both.
Geoff is an author, publisher and performer dedicated to building an independent media. He worked for Australian Consolidated Press as a Packer editor until starting his own media company in the mid-nineties.
The Generator started life as a radio show on Byron Bay's Bay FM and continues as an umbrella for the Cage, the Cross and Great Notion.