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REVIEW: "Famished Future Feeders" by Robert the Cat at Metro Arts

Famished Future Feeders at Metro Arts is an evocative journey into a dystopian future, brought to life by a talented ensemble of TAFE Queensland Acting alumni. Co-directed by Lisa O’Neill and Anatoly Frusin, this production stands out for its blend of absurdity, dark humour, and stark social commentary.

Set and Storyline

The narrative unfolds in a bafflingly backward yet advanced future, where famine, energy and environmental crises are resolved at the cost of freedom and... human flesh. As you enter the New Benner Theatre, you are welcomed by house techno music playing while actors in strange outfits portray somber scenes before the show begins. The set, designed by Hamish Chappell, juxtaposes the futuristic with the primitive, plunging the audience into a world that has progressed and regressed simultaneously.

The opening act is a flurry of concurrent scenes, accompanied by swift lighting changes and rapid dialogue that conveys the sense of urgency and disorder to reflect the dystopian backdrop. It is clear that both the actors and the crew have extensively rehearsed, guaranteeing seamless dialogue and transitions that demand the complete attention of the audience in order to keep up. Subsequent acts focus on deeper character exploration, allowing for a more measured pace to digest the complex themes.


Performance Highlights

The group of eight actors deliver such compelling performances that their characters stand out as some of the most interesting I have encountered in community theatre recently. Lachlan Orton and Aaron Whitney impress as couple Lynx and Byte, with their rapid and energetic dialogue exchanges that are maintained throughout the play. Lachlan Orton (who resembles Alan Cumming with an uncanny familiarity), delivers a nuanced performance as Lynx, a character navigating life in a controlled society and a broken family with endearing flair. John Ford, as Ham, is a standout from the get-go, offering a blend of humour and horror as a cannibal (it's legal!). Ford’s eccentric delivery and physicality bring an unexpected lightness to a dark role. Jules Broun captivates as Iggy with a brilliant accent and expressive physical performance. The scenes between Ford and Broun are highlights of the production, their interactions offering both comedic relief and poignant commentary on the struggles of the lowest social class.

Even when they are not the central focus of a scene, the dominant expressiveness of Georgina Sawyer (as Dove) and the raw intense emotion of Peta Kishawi (as Doe) captivate and draw my attention. Peter Hatton’s Leo emerges strongly in the second act. His portrayal of a wealthy individual tormented and unravelling from hidden secrets adds layers of intrigue and tension. Hatton’s scenes with Milan Bjelajac (as Fuge a freedom fighter), show a particularly compelling contrast between privilege and rebellion. Bjelajac's performance is characterised by intense physicality and emotional fortitude; his revolutionary passion culminates in a frenzied yet impactful monologue. The interconnectedness of all these characters becomes clearer as the show progresses.

Themes and Messages

Every element is designed to pull the audience into the world of Famished Future Feeders. The portrayal of human hunting grounds, limited food rations, lack of free education and democracy, and segregated societies of the privileged and the underprivileged, paints a grim picture of what might lie ahead. While the script is full of zingers and clever one-liners, it is the more profound statements like, "The selfless helps the selfish. And no one is left to help the selfless," that linger with me.

The storyline is frustratingly familiar, reflecting societal issues like class inequality, climate crisis, and diminishing freedoms. This is especially resonant for audiences who are familiar with the current social atmosphere of West End in Brisbane, just near the theatre where we were seated. The audience's reaction throughout the performance is a testament to the play’s impact. There are audible gasps during moments of revelation, laughter during the comedic exchanges, and a palpable tension during the darker scenes. The production effectively triggers a range of emotions, ensuring that the audience remains engaged and responsive.

Sound, Lighting, and Costume

The sound design complements the visual and narrative elements. From the music that establishes the initial atmosphere, to the violent slashing sounds, to subtle effects that elevate pivotal moments; like during Fuge's revolutionary speech I swear I could hear an underscored chanting of "Kyrie Eleison." Geoff Squires’ lighting design is crucial, particularly in the opening act, with lightning-fast changes distinguishing the simultaneous scenes. The vibrant costumes aid in creating the futuristic yet devolved world. Each imaginative outfit reflects the characters’ societal roles and personalities, my favourite being the fish slippers.

Famished Future Feeders is a must-see for an intellectually stimulating and emotionally charged theatrical experience that is both entertaining and enlightening. It is a show that demands to be seen, discussed, and remembered. So if you're ready for an epic existential crisis and a night of unique and compelling theatre, grab a ticket before it closes on July 13.

Tickets available here


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