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The party's over

Tony Reck

You know the set up. The party’s over and it’s time to leave. If you don’t, things may get ugly. Instead, you stay on, trying to recapture the spirit of an event as it diminishes. One too many pills, a bottle or 2 of vodka, and the party just gets uglier...

The End of Romance has something of this ugliness. A pudgy, bearded Jason Sweeney in white singlet and Y-fronts disco dances with balloons. Vampish Julie Vulcan repeatedly stabs a heart shaped chocolate cake with a knife, stuffs cake into her mouth, and later offers it to members of the audience (many choosing to eat the mess). The End of Romance might be muddled, self indulgent and excessive, but what of that moment when a relationship fails—that transitional space, that haemorrhaging of a fruitful, satisfying partnership in our capacity to abandon those we love? This is the space that The End of Romance inhabits, but it is not just a show about personal relationships. Sweeney runs around the space with a framed map of ‘Old Australia’, singing an ironic song that reinforces “Howard’s Way”—back to the 50s while charting a 21st century path. The political dialectic of the show is all too familiar, but Sweeney and Vulcan move beyond this mundanity.

The performance is conducted from a trestle table with 2 laptops. The computers appear to have no other function apart from receiving confessional emails from a collaborator supposedly situated in Brussels, who also appears on Sweeney’s screen singing a bastardised version of a popular song. The whole set up suggests a dubious dysfunction that may or may not be intentional: artists propelled back in time to 50s Australia, a surreal place in which metaphors of shit, blood and vomit prevail. Might this be symbolic of the end of the romance between the Australia Council and new media and hybrid artists brought about by the recent dismantling of the New Media Arts Board? Possibly, but you may not glean this from the performance if the allusion was not included in the publicity. Perhaps artists should have known that once the business world dispensed with its short lived fetish for new technology, it would only be a matter of time. In a sometimes shabby and often eccentric show, there is power in Sweeney and Vulcan’s suggestion that the party is over. Like dead meat, the characters are left hanging on a butcher’s hook. And the blood flow is slow and painful from a couple of wounded hearts drunk in the kitchen at a party now trapped in time.

The Rouge Room: Unreasonable Adults, The End of Romance, performers Jason Sweeney, Julie Vulcan, outside eye/collaborator Ingrid Voorendt, remote artists Caroline Daish, Jaye Hayes, Stephen Noonan, Kerrin Rowlands, Theatreworks, Melb, Aug 25-Sept 1

RealTime issue #69 Oct-Nov 2005 pg. 35

© Tony Reck; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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