One source offers the synonyms of patchiness, unevenness, and weakness for ‘mediocrity’ (and suggests the antonym of excellence). Magnetic North TC’s first work was far from mediocre: a thought-provoking work in progress that was a pleasure to watch.
The Writer/Director Sophie-Jane Huchet is to be congratulated for creating an insightful and provocative window into the mind and insecurities of the newly post-education, let-out-into-the world 20-something’s. A story which is not only that of young adults today, but is one that their parents will also relate to. On their Facebook page Magnetic North TC describe themselves as “an independent ensemble committed to innovative, insightful theatre telling ‘stories from people like us.'” For me, they told a story that’s about all of us. Or at least stories about all of us who have grown up post-war facing ‘First World’ problems. Having left parental support behind to set up life with the love of our life, we all come to realise that life can soon become filled with the mundane. Those bins need to be put out after all. Having been convinced that we are going to be the next big thing, suddenly we can feel that no matter how hard we try, we are not quite the success we thought we might be.
The show introduces us to what the publicity describes as “two ‘newly adult’ Brisbanites.” Loretta (Jackie Sutton ) and Harvey (Christopher Batkin) have set up home together, sharing dreams of being successful in their chosen careers. Little do they realise that they are actually a household of three—with the constant presence of Joker (Callum Pulsford).
The cast were excellent. Not only did they work well together, but I believed in the relationship created between Loretta and Harvey, and how they responded to the nagging doubts and pressures resulting from the hamster wheels they had each selected. Joker was a wonderful contrivance for us to learn more about the pain Loretta and Harvey each felt, and how they responded to the pressure of being seen to be successful. The ‘Facebook’ scene with Loretta and Joker, and the ‘Apple author’ scene with Harvey and Joker were spot on: well-written and beautifully acted insights into the insecurities of each character.
And Callum Pulsford created a mesmerising Joker—clearly having as much fun playing the character as it was to watch. Acting as a disdainful conscience, petulant gremlin, and impatient puppeteer, the Joker was a convincing “devil within.” From the first moment when the audience entered the room, he was a menacing, alert, and compelling figure.
Congratulations also to the team behind the scenes, including Andy Green (AD/producer and Batman—surely one of the best job titles I have seen during the Anywhere Festival), and stage manager/designer Tiff lane. Tiff, I loved your work as you silently mouthed the script to ensure the sound cues were absolutely perfect.
Many of the venues selected for the Anywhere Festival have their challenges. The Toowong Bowls Club is a great venue, and a popular choice on a Saturday night. The Club was hosting a stag party, a number of birthday celebrations, and Mediocrity (Everything You’ve Ever Wanted). As verandah was full, we were not outside on a suburban porch, but inside the confines of a small apartment. I felt the staging really suited the script. We were drawn into the cramped environment of a small first home, where much of the action takes place on the living room sofa. Despite the rising noise levels from the 40th birthday celebrations taking place next door, the cast drew us in to the show, ensured we could hear what they were saying, and kept our attention.
I left the production reflecting on the final note of optimism: the couple grappled with their Joker, and decided whether they valued success above happiness. During the performance, the Joker had engaged with the audience as well as with the couple. So perhaps some of us left the show reflecting on our how we deal with our own “devil within,” and what exactly is “everything” we have “ever wanted.”
I hope you get the chance to see the show for yourself. Although I saw the production on the last night of this run (23 May 2015), I am sure we will hear more from Magnetic North TC, and will certainly keep a look out for the further development of Mediocrity (Everything You’ve Ever Wanted).
Main Picture (L to R): Harvey (Christopher Batkin), Joker (Callum Pulsford), and Loretta (Jackie Sutton ), Mediocrity (Everything You’ve Ever Wanted), 23 May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.
For more pictures from the 23rd May 2015 performance visit the Facebook pages of the Anywhere Festival, or of Creative Futures Photography