Life & Times: Verbatim Review

by Jane

As told to Jason Sweeney, my rambling rave of Melbourne Festival’s Life & Times: Episodes 1 – 4. In the spirit of the show, a verbatim review. Unedited except for Sweeney’s interstitial remarks. 


I’m really. I’m. I just. So I went. In Melbourne I saw a ten-hour play, um, The Life and Times. I actu— I think it’s going to be, like, one of the definitive theatrical experiences of my life. It was just. It was incredible. I was yeah, there, yeah, the whole time. I did the I did the marathon and it was … And I I I went in — I was really excited about it and I was talking to my mate that I was going with before we went in and I was going ‘this is the worst thing ever, I am so excited going in, I can’t get like I can’t feel better then this.’ Like. Ha ha. It can only be a disappointment because I’ve filled up so much of my head with like and you can’t do that and it just got and I just got happier and happier and more excited and more excited the more that it went on, and so I’m really excited by, like, long things.

There was this great review of um Angels in America which I also saw and I also did the the the whole day with that this year um and there was this great review I think it was in um Concrete Playground it opened with something along the lines of, um, ‘In this. In this day and age perhaps the best ways to experience art are in three minutes or seven hours’. Ha ha.

And I — Life and Times it was just incredible. And it. And I think like it was really funny. Like, I didn’t expect it to be that funny. Like, you don’t expect things to be that funny for ten hours and then the last twenty minutes it just it dissolves into this bizarre — it’s not even performance art because it’s not even performance really like it’s just the last twenty minutes is just insane. We all walked out and we were all just ‘I don’t think my brain’s working.’ Ha ha ha ha ha.


So the last. So the first three and a half hours is done in the style of a communist musical, so like with rhythmic gymnastics elements. And none of them were trained dancers. So they’re doing rhythmic gymnastics. And then the second middle maybe two hours is done in the style of an eighties music video, and so it’s all. It’s a black stage with a mirror ball and they’re all in um velour tracksuits. And then the final third maybe two hours is done in the style of ah um Agatha Christie British like um drawing room mystery farce. Um and the set for that is very am-dram painted flats. And one of the. One of the best moments in the whole ten hours is one of the characters picks up a fire poker and starts poking the flats and like something else is happening on stage I have no idea what, with the audience is just dying at 11:30 at night we’ve been there for nine and a half hours and and I think the fact that the actor looks at the audience and then looks back ha ha as she’s poking the flat with the fire poker. It’s brilliant.

So that’s like the last two hours. So the last twenty minutes, maybe, the cast — so it’s yep, British farce, they do sit in this tableau on stage, lights go to green, bright green. Smoke machine. Half a dozen people in alien bodysuits come out and sit in this tableau and there is the voice over is talking about um making an insect out of a basil leaf in art class. And then it just sort of ends. Ha ha ha ha ha.


The Life and Times: Episodes Melbourne just had episodes one through four. And eventually there will be ten episodes? So they want they’re going to what they’re going to they’re aiming to make it a twenty-four hour thing. They’re called the Nature Theatre of Oklahoma. Yeah.

The. Yeah. And it’s just. Yeah. And it’s just amazing because like it doesn’t sound like it should work? Ha ha. It’s just like. It’s all verbatim from a phone call with one of the company members and so it’s her life story. So episodes one through four I think we went from birth to eighteen.