There has never been a better time for a show to take centre stage and challenge the status quo. We meet C just after her transformation. She is battered and beaten down, she is at her lowest but she discovers that there is even lower that she can fall. With a creak and a crack she awakens as the cockroach. But rather than concede defeat, C decides that it is time to focus her anger and take her revenge!
C smashes and slashes down archaic narratives of rape and purity and takes a witty and long overdue swipe at the “poetic” writings of the Greek masters. There are no veiled musings or subtle barbs here, that time is done, and in its wake is a raging fury. The fury of a woman, women, who have been forced to smile, to play nice, to endure, to keep quiet, to accept fault and blame.
Through Cockroach’s revenge we watch as she takes down predator after predator, each dealt the justice they deserve. It doesn’t take long to hear the familiar stories, stories taken directly from the headlines. Stories that we hear all too often and we seem to keep on hearing. But now, in Cockroach, we have a hero that doesn’t care if she is deserved or wanted, for she fights for those who will no longer be ignored.
Leah Donovan’ performance is thrilling to watch. She hurls all that she has into her performance and with sublime physicality she embodies all the raw rage and anger of the Cockroach. Leah truly is fearless, a performer who challenges you to look away and I pity anyone who dares to.
Melita Rowston’s writing is spine tinglingly brilliant. Each moment and sentence is carefully structured and woven into a whip smart script. The metaphor at the centre of the production is a stroke of genius, for as the cockroach is the lowest of the low; there is still a will and drive to survive. Rowston’s direction is relaxed but leaves with the opportunity to really push the boundaries of her performance and fully respond to the scripts effect of the audience.
It’s a treat to see live music on a fringe stage that isn’t a keyboard and each instrument is used to further drive and signify the rage and emotional journey of the story. There were a few sound issues and noise bleeds but hey, that’s fringe for you.
Cockroach is a show that many have been crying out for. It is not passive and doesn’t pretend to be. It has a message to deliver to its audiences and will scream it loud and unashamed. There is no more playing nice and smiling through the abuse. The time has come to air the issues underpinning the narrative and we have a responsibility to listen, to engage and to lean.
Arts House (Warehouse), 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 27 September 2018 – 9.15pm
Season continues to 29 September 2018
Information and Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au
Image: Leah Donovan stars in Cockroach (supplied)
Review: Gavin Roach