Review: 3×3 | A Triple Bill of New Theater

Yep, I’ve got another review!

If you don’t know me that well, you should know that I have an opinion on just about everything and I love to discuss while also sharing opinions – so keep reading.

I headed to the theater again.

This time, I viewed Chewing Productions3×3 | A Triple Bill of New Theatre at the Theatre Next Door.

This show was made up of three, thirty-minute new plays made by three teams of three artists (which is why it’s called 3×3).

The description stated: “a wild and exciting evening of disco dancing, game-show quizzing, and tennis playing” – and it couldn’t have been more spot on.

There was a lot going on in all three plays; let’s unpack it.

‘All The Things I’m Trying T̶o̶ ̶S̶a̶y̶’ by Alex Weenink

In this play, we’re introduced to a couple, May and Pete, who have a love-hate relationship and are finding it hard to communicate. They explore the different ways in which they can communicate and understand each other as their relationship grows from the ‘childhood’ phase to ‘adolescence’.

‘All The Things I’m Trying T̶o̶ ̶S̶a̶y̶’ is movement-driven rather than narrative-driven as it explores the different mediums in which this couple communicate.

One of the mediums is dancing. As they dance to 70s groovy music, intertwined with their dancing is also fighting.

Their dancing/fighting is a reflection of their relationship – they want to be together because they love each other and it works to a certain point yet they also want to hurt each other because they also know that the relationship doesn’t fully work. 

They know they’re not compatible yet they’re drawn to each other. 

May asks herself: ‘Is it the medium that is wrong, or is it the fact that there is a medium to begin with?’ 

There are spoken words in this play. May says a lot whereas Pete says very little. May is open to communication via words yet Pete doesn’t respond the way she wants.

And yet, this performance is about the growth of a relationship. May and Pete are learning how their relationship can grow beyond ‘love’ and ‘ecstasy’ and instead, learn how to be ‘naked’ (in the literary sense) with each other. They also explore feelings like ‘dread’, ‘hate’ and ‘dislike’. 

May also discovers a new way of communicating. She leaves Pete a video recording for him to watch later and it takes her many times before she manages to say what she needs to say. 

The couple is aware that sometimes we say ‘nothing at all and all at once’ – that’s how feelings come and go.

Finally, they explore the notion of ‘feeling’. By experiencing the action of ‘feeling’, one lives an absolute truth.

May and Pete are learning to understand & communicate with each other – through whatever medium that is – one of them being raw ‘feeling’.

‘Who’s Your Daddy?’ by Lara Agius

The setting of this play is a ‘game show’ with the title of the play also being the title of the show.

We’re all used to the ‘game show’ setting being an easy-going and entertaining one, yet this one definitely wasn’t that.

‘Who’s Your Daddy?’ is a government-programmed show in which a married woman, Katie, is forced to attend. The audience gets to vote whether or not she should meet her unknown father.

If the father gets revealed, he could be anything from a criminal to a billionaire, yet what matters is that Katie’s societal and governmental standing would be altered accordingly. The aim is to map out the failures of society. If her father isn’t revealed, her father would be charged with child abandonment.

When timid Katie walks on stage, you can tell that she doesn’t want to be there. She repeatedly says throughout the show that she likes her life the way it is and she doesn’t want it to change.

On the other hand, the game show host repeatedly says:

Dear citizens, Project Beta reminds you that it is your duty to make the right decision about who to punish and who to reward. After all, we strive to keep our society all well. All good. All perfect. 

Katie wants everything to stay the same – yet the presenter keeps insisting that things must change.

Katie desperately doesn’t want to meet her father. She insists that her life is not a game and she’s so desperate that she shoots herself. This could be applied to the capitalist system we live in which sucks us into its ‘game’.

Katie may be the product of family issues, yet society thinks that her family issues have turned her into a failure.

When projected onto today’s real-life society, society tends to judge people who have family issues as ‘failures’ rather than help them achieve more in life.

Within the context of the play, the game show host clearly doesn’t want to help Katie. The game show host is ‘all smiles’ yet it’s all fake.

There’s also the sense of a dystopian setting due to the mention of ‘government profile’, ‘track record’, ‘wastelands’, ‘genetic testing’ and ‘history mapping’. Sounds like Nazi shit. It’s freakin twisted.

I wasn’t expecting this play to turn out the way it did yet it definitely left me asking questions. (Lara, I’d love to have a chat!)

‘Thirty-Love’ by Nicky Gambin

The setting of this play is a 30-minute countdown on the wall and a tennis court.

The audience is first presented with Naomi – she’s an open book who speaks her mind and at times, comes off as arrogant. 

On the other hand, the audience is presented with Valentina (who’s Naomi’s younger cousin) and at first, you’d think that Valentina is scared of Naomi due to the latter’s introverted character.

So, it’s been three years since they played tennis together and the audience is wondering: Why three years? What happened?

The story unfolds through their dialogue. Naomi is chill while Valentina’s language switches from present to past tense – she’s angry with Naomi. Naomi keeps asking her: Why didn’t you tell me?

Naomi then tells Valentina (and the audience) about her heart condition which led to a sudden heart attack. Throughout this monologue, the audience slowly realizes that Naomi is dead.

(Context: Naomi had made the decision to not tell anyone about her heart condition because she wanted to feel normal – not sick)

Therefore, the audience is witnessing the aftermath of loss; grief. Naomi doesn’t know what that feels like yet Valentina is consumed by it.

This interaction presents both sides to death – one who mourns and one who has no choice but to leave.

Their conversation initially starts off disjointed yet it transcends into longing and rekindling. Everyone has someone they miss; whether it’s across seas, across time or across death. 

Since we are not given the context as to how Valentina (who’s alive) and Naomi (who’s dead) meet, I wonder if the interaction we are witnessing between Valentina and Naomi is a made-up memory in Valentina’s mind (maybe she misses Naomi so much that she imagines herself talking to Naomi). Or, is it Naomi interacting with Valentina in Valentina’s mind in a dream-like memory? 

If there’s one spiritual thing that I believe in, it’s the dead.

So, how do the dead talk to the living? We can sense their communication but we can’t see it or hear it. What is the medium? Linked to Weenink’s play, Gambin’s deals with communication too.

Finally, the audience is aware that this is a thirty-minute interaction due to the countdown on the wall. The countdown can represent many different things – an expiration date, a time bomb or a ticking clock.

Whichever one it represents for the audience, for Gambin or for the characters, they have the same outcome. We all run out of time – so we have to make good use of it with the people in our lives.

So, that was my analysis of 3×3 | A Triple Bill of New Theatre – it was definitely worth the watch! 

A big round of applause goes to the writers and the actors – they’re hitting the local theater scene and I expect we’ll see more of them.

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