LIVE STREAM THEATRE
Griffin Theatre Company, April 21
In terms of relevance deprivation right now you can’t sink much lower than a theatre critic. It’s like the National Party without coal: absolutely no raison d’etre (which is French, Barnaby, for a shrivelled grape.) So imagine the sheer ecstasy when Griffin Theatre announced it had commissioned a series of live streams. This was what Adani is to the party of the farmers: a purpose. I could set aside the gloves, mask and awkwardly-angled straw, unsheathe my third favourite pen, and settle into the chair that I intend to sue over the crick in my neck – once we’re allowed to visit lawyers again.
In the grand food-chain of theatre on screen, if National Theatre at Home is a fattened goose with budgets that could re-float Virgin, Griffin Lock-In is a bag of crisps. Artistic director Declan Greene gave the artists involved just a week to devise something and then do it. Live.
Actor, writer, graphic designer, comedian and singer Jordan Raskopoulos, being a live-stream regular, was installed as the first of five acts. Her hour-long entertainment, Renaissance Hydra, she assured us at the outset, was “not shit. It’s ramshackle.” Were it not for the current modest opportunities, she could get a job as a critic.
Raskopoulos planted herself in front of a green screen, and then manipulated the background graphics, amusingly singing Lilac Wine in garbage bins and rubbish tips, while predatory ibises hung about her head like bad smells. Meanwhile viewers could make cash donations to her show, which spawned cheers or boos in real time – the largesse of the Great Cooped-Up generating rather more of the intrusive cheering than Raskopoulos may have expected.
The subject matter of her “digital cabaret” ranged from Harold Holt to her once being a Beef Oracle at shopping centres for Meat and Livestock Australia; from Clive Palmer’s alleged sexual relations with a dinosaur to a sung account of the ins and outs of her Bangkok sex-change operation. The show intermittently ran out of puff or hit digital headwinds, but it visited wellsprings of humour that no TV station would have countenanced, so well done, Griffin: you made something different happen during the lock-down.