Image by Fringe Festival Perth
Reviewed by Cleo Robins
Playing in the intimate ‘Home Economics’ room of the Girls School Fringe hub, Dirt by Angus Cameron is a gripping and thoroughly moving piece of theatre.
The play follows two men who meet in Russia, who over the course of a single night form an attachment. A bond which neither of them are entirely sure how to define. The characters are played by actors Wil King and Patrick Livesey, who are partners in real life. Both performers are well suited to their respective roles, each inhabiting the part of naïve tourist and disgruntled tour guide with ease. It was Livesey’s performance which was the standout of the night; the gut-wrenching rollercoaster of emotions they deployed to tell their character’s story made the audience crackle with in a shared vibrancy.
While it ran a full hour in length, Dirt felt like it went by in a flash. This was largely due to the play’s thriller structure. From the moment the two characters meet, it is hinted that they are both keeping secrets. As the play continuously unravels, it is hard to look away as half-truths and hidden motives are unravelled right before your eyes. Unexpectedly, the action is at one point interspersed with a short dance sequence, which gives a lyrical and tangible form to the verbal sparring of the protagonists, which releases some of the dramatic tension.
If you are not tempted by the promise of stellar acting and a captivating storyline, see Dirt for its subtle but effective exploration of the effects of political erasure. The play opens with Livesey’s Russian character explaining a joke he made about the quality of the dirt in Moscow. This exchange comes back to haunt both characters throughout the course of the play, reminding them of the fraught process of bearing witness to someone else’s trauma. Just as the men play different roles for each other, so too does Dirt toy with the audience’s own moralising inner voice. Not only does the show lay bare the reality of life in Russia for LGBTQIA+ youth, but it also forces its audience to re-examine their perspectives on international human rights.
As the play is exploring very real subject matters, the producers have decided to donate $1 from every ticket sale to the Russian LGBTQIA+ Network and the Moscow Community Centre for LGBTQIA+ Initiatives.
Dirt by Angus Cameron is on until the 5th of February at the Girls School in East Perth.