When I think of theatre company The Town Centre, the link from the agora (where the Ancient Greek public assembled for discussion) to the Theatre of Dionysus (where tragedians addressed social and political issues through mimetic representation) is unavoidable. So too are the words of Aristotle’s Poetics, where the rules to poetic writing were first composed. Over two thousand years later, watching creator and performer Nisha Madhan on stage, I am reminded of the words of contemporary New Zealand playwright, Gary Henderson; “You break the rules in rugby, you just get penalised…the smart player knows the rules and then does something unexpected with them. They subvert them…and that unpredictability makes a brilliant rugby player. It’s the same with a writer.” And it is this subversion, only achievable through knowledge, that makes Fuck Rant an incomparable success.
With nothing more than some tape, a pen, and a lot of fake blood, Madhan breaks down traditional theatrical concepts of time, body, and space, which allows her to metaphorically address the notion of distance and difference between people. Through a repetitious cycle of decreasing duration, Madhan not only condenses the philosophical weight of these theories to simplistic terms, but consequently makes them more powerful. It’s the kind of commentary on labelling that is resonant to those who understand it, and subtle enough for those who need to hear it, but otherwise wouldn’t, to accept.
In addition to cerebral engagement, this dilution is also one of the ways in which the show entertains its audience. Repetition can become boring very quickly, but with both Madhan’s sense of play and the audience’s sense of expectation, no moment is passed over without consideration, resulting in a comedic roller coaster that is never the same on any loop or corkscrew.
Fuck Rant is a show for everyone. It is an incredibly surreal experience in which the audience is truly both the individual and the collective, the spectator and the performer, the subject and the object, because the lines drawn outside the theatre are erased by those Madhan identifies on stage. From the critical aficionado to the first-time punter, the theatrical deconstruction is not only accessible, but quite simply the most accurate and truthful representation of theatre itself.
Fuck Rant is presented by The Town Centre and plays at The Basement until Feb 24 as part of Auckland Fringe 2018.