Deep in the darkest alleyways of Paris, Tom Markiewicz emerges as writer Stephen House’s vulnerable yet ruthless character who makes his way from one fringe of society to another. Markiewicz dances his way into our hearts, through touching naivety, a sincere sexuality, and most importantly, a voice that carries an uncomfortable string of stories through powerful presence and soul filled song.
Markiewicz portrays a middle-aged bisexual man in search of love, connection, and reciprocated admiration. Director Shane Pike enhances the narrative’s exposition from a single naive and idealistic perspective. Pike avoids the common one-person show approach of having a single actor portray multiple characters and pant their way through tiring fast paced, back and fourth conversations. Instead, Pike and Markiewicz present a single character’s perspective on dangerous scenarios, relationships, and choices in a combination of biased narration and closed minded recollection. Markiewicz generates a response of simultaneous heartbreak and frustration from his audience by combining rage and tears with risky choices and juvenile reactions. With a child-like stream of consciousness, the lonely and desperate character poses a deluded optimism which parallels with the devastating reality of living in the unpredictable and unforgiving streets of Paris.
To accompany Markiewicz’s captivating performance and Pike’s evocative direction, Silvan Rus provides a deeply sensitive soundtrack which complements the character’s psyche. Rus performs live on an electric guitar, sometimes entering the production through the actor’s gesture, others when setting the atmosphere through pre-show score and speech in French. Markiewicz’s singing with this soundtrack was at times hypnotic, but also messy and charmingly offbeat. His performance often broke the flow and mood of each song through either comedic or bitter throw away comments, or jarring physical movement which spoke to the character’s chaotic mind. Again, Pike’s direction brought a power that drew focus into the story and character, which was then broken through the music’s switch in song to signal a shift in thought, emotion, location.
Like the soundtrack’s ambience, the production’s set design complimented the foundational atmosphere that the text, direction and actor initiated. A beautiful landscape painting, or possibly a pencil drawing, sits upon an easel, standing uncomfortably next to a bench covered in newspapers and black garbage bags that scream homeless hopelessness. The simplistic set matches the cement archway in the Powerhouse’s turbine studio to create a dank, cold, and unforgiving aesthetic. The simplicity of the “queen’s” clown-like drag makeup and elegant yet sultry black dress brings the piece’s visual elements to the forefront of the show’s memorability.
Pike, Markiewicz and Rus are truly a trio of strong, driven men who pull us deep into the unsettling, yet strangely addictive sleaze of Appalling Behaviour’s Parsian underworld. The show is sharp and simplistic, yet has been carefully developed into an empathetic exploration of a bisexual man’s emotional journey in a cold and cruel location.
– Written by Rhumer Diball February 12th 2016
APPALLING BAHVIOUR PRESENTED BY WAX LYRICAL PRODUCTIONS & BRISBANE POWERHOUSE AS A PART OF MELT: A CELEBRATION OF QUEER ARTS AND CULTURE 2016
WED FEB 10 – SAT FEB 13, 2016.
Photo credit: Zoe Tuffin.