Review: This is My Real Job

Theatre

23.03.2015

Review: This is My Real Job

Lara Fischel-Chisholm's solo show, This is My Real Job, is a winking, enchanting and unstoppable exploration of art, ambition and success. Developed in collaboration with Nisha Madhan, it debuted last year at the Dunedin Fringe Festival, where it was performed at Fischel-Chisholm's mum and dad's house. Joseph Harper and Rosabel Tan discuss its recent incarnation at Basement Theatre.

Joseph Harper

It’s the kind of show that works hard to be make itself hard to define, don't you think?

Rosabel Tan

Totally. It resists a traditional narrative, and instead captures something more visceral –

Joseph

– which is maybe a side effect of its obsession with ‘the present moment’ –

Rosabel

– the present moment, and how we reconcile that with everything it's not – the past, our hopes, our ambitions, our failures. What I found special about this play was how it feels emblematic of a new mode of theatre. There’s a certain genre that often gets lumped into the miscellany 'experimental' box but actually seems to represent a distinct form – one that runs parallel to the rise of the personal essay in literature.

Joseph

I think I know what you mean. The kind of shows that take the idea of abstraction almost literally, in a vaguely impressionist way?

Rosabel

Yeah. In the same way that conceptual art focuses on an idea, which its physical manifestation then excavates. This is My Real Job is about all those things we talked about – ambition, failure, hope, the present moment – in its absolute concentrate form. And Lara finds incredibly fierce and playful ways to slip and slide to this core.

Joseph

There was one moment that really stood out for me in that regard. When she was projecting slides of her family onto herself in a random-seeming way. After a while I felt myself starting to cry. It was this very pure emotional moment. Delivered without any context or pretence. I think helped by Lara's delivery, which was totally devoid of self-deprecation or coyishness.

Rosabel

Yeah, and that feels like another aspect of this genre. It confidently but modestly lays out its vulnerabilities and they’re embraced but not celebrated – she’s charming but not cute – and that ties in with its recognition of the construct of theatre. It’s very knowing in that respect.

Joseph

I thought it was really cleverly constructed – the way Lara managed to turn the audience from playing its 'normal' role as this non-committal mass who are there in judgement of the work into a community that was there specifically in support of her.

Rosabel

From the moment you get there. You help unstack the chairs and physically help make the performance possible.

Joseph

So skilfully done. It felt like we were in an audience of her immediate family. And you could see the steps she took to build that community. It was like watching a caterpillar building a cocoon around herself so as to gain the ability to fly.

Rosabel

I’ve been thinking a lot about the end, too. The show takes on this remarkably triumphant narrative, and it evokes a real sense of magic because through the various devices and interludes in the show she actually gets us to create the catharsis and the resolution it needs.

Joseph

Yeah I can honestly say I've never been part of an audience that's 'bought in' as much as that.

Rosabel

Neither. And it was done with such a light touch –

Joseph

You're right. You never notice the way Lara is moulding you into the audience member she wants you to be.

To be honest I’m having a hard time talking about the show. Like most good things, the form is so completely tied into the content. And the joy of it lies in being in that moment.

Rosabel

It’s a lot like dance. Rather than inviting retrospective reflection, it’s a show that grounds you more immediately, more viscerally, and relies on that shared experience of unexpected delight. Totally recommended.

Joseph

Definitely. A very good show. 

 

This is My Real Job played at the Basement Theatre from Tuesday 17 - Saturday 21 March

See also:
Reuben Hilder for Theatreview

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