MKA, responsible for some of Melbourne’s most confronting political theatre, returns to Melbourne Fringe for another outstanding original production , BOUNTY, presented by Darebin Arts Speakeasy program and playing at Northcote Townhall.
BOUNTY is an absurdly epic tale offering a searing insight into radicalisation, vice and moral panic in modern Australia. Queensland Premiere Newman Campbell is confronted with public hostility against his anti-bikie legislation, and decides to raise the stakes by introducing a new idea: pit the state’s criminal gangs against each other like Roman gladiators in a Superjail arena and display for the general public. But when his daughters, like many rebellious teens, become caught up in the growing gladiator trend, decide to put on the jumpsuit themselves, all hell and fury break loose in this picture-perfect family structure.
Staged between two audience-seating areas, the actors deliver exceptional performances – Matilda Reed as Lisa Campbell elegantly portrays a loving and doting wife who grows into an unwavering concerned mother, and the voice of reason, once her children are impacted by her husband’s messy political choices; daughters Sarah and Rebecca Newman, played by Zia Zantis-Vinylcomb and Artmeis Ionnides, each have their individual quirks but unite in rebellious spirit and curious, teenage antics; and Conor Gallacher politically charms as Campbell Newman, hoping to gain the audience’s vote for “most likeable.” By mid-performance the absurdity seems so believable and engrossed by the characters, a poignant lull floats over the audience who is left questioning “Are they for real?” and should we laugh.
After the show, I sat down with writer, Eric Gardiner, to gain some insight into the inspiration behind this epic tale. Influenced by an obsession with Roman history and politics, especially knowledge of the 2013 politic issues faced in Brisbane, Gardiner made BOUNTY his first full-length play. And although he does not want to influence interpretations Gardiner does hope the audience gains a stronger understanding that their voices impact politics.
If you can only see one performance in Melbourne Fringe, do NOT deny yourself the opportunity to see MKA: BOUNTY.