MFF23-JOYRIDE-Anna-Lumb-photo-by-Rebekah-HallsThe funny thing about life is that it can be the same for a while, maybe a long while, and then it isn’t. Reliable devices break, and harmonious relationships turn discordant. That might be about the best reading of the story I can hope for after this technically compromised night of the potentially-packed experimental show Joyride.

The show’s idea is novel – to use the area in and around a 1985 BMW as a setting for physical theatre. The venue, level one of the Trades Hall Carpark (accessible by stairs or lift), is also fresh.

A rock chick (Anna Lumb, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The Burlesque Hour, Glory Box, Strange Fruit, Circus Oz) waits to give a friend a lift in her veteran car. (She’s also happy to retrieve blankets from the car boot for those feeling cold in the open structure.)

A drag performer in high-viz (drag icon, DANDROGYNY) lugs their ribbons and esky towards the Beamer. The daytime drag gig didn’t go so well, and there’s a need for some venting.

Driver and passenger rock out to tunes while channel surfing, and although they’re together, they’re not really communicating. A pitstop gave the opportunity for some very amusing gymnastic work around the car by Lumb, and some campy movement by DANDROGYNY. There was also a ridiculously funny take on a chase scene.

A dramatic moment, the arrival of new characters, and the departure of clearly audible speech caused us to hit a pothole. All credit to Lumb for staying in character whilst trying to repeatedly prompt the sound desk.

Sustained difficulties meant that the work became disjointed parts, although movement sequences showed flashes of dexterity and strength. We can’t really appreciate the intended dramaturgy of Maude Davey and Rebecca Church here.

So why be a misery-guts and write about the event? Regrettably, poor sound has occurred at a few recent shows. In the worst case this produced a largely incoherent (un-reviewable) hour of Mel and Sam’s High Pony in week 1. It’s unfortunate to see another show T-boned in this way, especially when the effect on performers can be seen at close range.

Audiences can hope that sound issues are fixed for subsequent departures of Joyride. Festivals might want to ponder how to offer performers and punters a less bumpy ride in this vehicle, and others.

Festival Hub: Trades Hall – The Carpark, Corner Lygon & Victoria Streets, Carlton
Performance: Sunday 15 October 2023
Season continues to 22 October 2023
Information and Bookings:

Image: Anna Lumb – photo by Rebekah Halls

Review: Jason Whyte