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– by Shu-Ling Chua

The Merry-go-round

Wednesday March 18

A small crowd is gathered at the merry-go-round in Garema Place. A man emerges with a sign. On it are three rules: 1) You’re Dead Now, 2) Respect the Fucking Horses and 3) Do What You’re Told. We take four sheets of paper, a pencil and are told to sit on the ground. “You’re dead. You died. You’re gone. Welcome”, says Chris Endrey, our host and narrator for the evening. What follows is a series of instructions, interspersed with paper planes, fairy bread, song and soul-searching.

The performance begins shakily. We are told to sketch the merry-go-round as Endrey and friends, clothed in black and face-painted devilishly white, peer at us from the moving horses. Many members of the audience look confused – aren’t we here for the ride (literally)? Luckily, we don’t have to wait long.

Endrey begins to recite William Blake’s ‘A Poison Tree’. But distracted by the bopping up and down of horses, the audience struggles to catch every word. Endrey’s choice of music is better received; as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ reaches its climax, the more exuberant among us stand on our horses and reach, arms outstretched, towards each other. Passers-by stop to watch and some join us.

A highlight is when we have to write down one thing we wish we had done while still living (because we are now dead). We pass our notes on until the carousel stops. Wishes range from the deeply personal (“Embroider a landscape”, “Love more”) to the wildly ambitious (“Go to the moon”). There is a sense of us being in it all together; communal dreams, communal regrets

For the closing scene we shut our eyes and are told to think. How did I get here? Who am I? Who do I want to become? Endrey solemnly informs us that death is made up and so is life.

Before returning to the world of the living we are peppered with further words of wisdom. It feels as though we are being lectured to but this is tempered by the fact that we are, after all, on a merry-go-round. We do as we are told one last time and silently scatter into the night, some of us pondering life, some wishing we had eaten more fairy bread.

Any performance that aims to “explore the inherent and confected meanings of life” (as stated in the You Are Here program) can only be described as ambitious. Some acts make more sense than others, much like certain stages of life itself. 82 Laps strikes a balance between the absurd and the profound. The merry-go-round delightfully takes us back to our childhood but with so many elements to address, the performance falls short of providing any opportunity for deeper reflection.

(Photo credit: Adam Thomas)


bio (Shu-Ling)Canberran of two years (but Melbournian at heart), Shu-Ling Chua spends her free time reading and enjoying music, travel, food and photography. She blogs about life and her favourite things at hello pollyanna while dreaming of living overseas (and making pretty things).

She has a deep appreciation for the ‘creative process’, having dabbled in origami, cross-stitch, knitting, crochet, making soft toys and most recently, pottery. This is her first You Are Here / Noted outing.

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