Little Black Bastard is a concoction of performance and autobiography. First performed in 2003, Noel Tovey brings the story of his childhood and becoming an artist back to La Mama as part of their 50th birthday celebrations.
For all the struggles, terrors, and rare bouts of serendipity Noel experienced during his early years, there’s a brave lack of theatrics in the telling. With the rare occasions of music, lighting changes and effects, and Noel’s own movements around the space – he and his Director, Robina Beard, have been careful not to labour the words with anything heavy-handed.
Throughout his piece, Noel is framed by tall images of his younger self, along with some of his relatives. A simple banjo tune plays in the background before the piece begins – a wee bit of business foreshadowing later discoveries. While his first steps on stage are told to have come about by accident, what’s lovely about Noel’s story is the sense he builds that in some ways it was almost inevitable.
He opened his story with a more modern beginning, a man taking an unplanned ride on a Melbourne tram along streets that had changed many times since he was a boy living on them. The more Noel described the tram’s turns down familiar haunts, the more he cast his line further into the past to recall buildings, bars, and the misfits that made up his boyhood. It’s a lovely way of constructing a larger geography, while pulling the audience in to listen very well at the beginning of a compelling (early) life story.
Director: Robina Beard Writer / Performer: Noel Tovey Researcher, Personal Assistant and Stage Manager: Cali Vandyke-Dunleavy Production Manager: Bec Etchell Original Set Design: Richard Roberts
Little Black Bastard
La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton
Performance: Sunday 7 May 2017 – 4.00pm
Season: 3 – 7 May 2017 (closed)
Information and Bookings: www.lamama.com.au
Image: Noel Tovey by Steven Rhall
Review: David Collins