Back to Back Theatre was founded in Geelong in 1987 to create theatre with people who are perceived to have a disability. It has gone on to become one of Australia’s leading creative voices, focusing on moral, philosophical and political questions about the value of individual lives. With a full-time ensemble of five actors, Back to Back creates work that is idiosyncratic, passionate and at times confronting.
My personal experience with Back to Back has been a fond and happy one. Having first seen them perform the brilliant and fantastic Ganesh Versus the Third Reich, this was an eye opening and stunning piece of theatre, which premiered two years ago. However attending the opening night of their latest creation Super Discount was sadly not met with the same delight I had with my first encounter.
Super Discount opens with all the characters in their rehearsal room auditioning to play the character Mark’s superhero creation for their next play. It then falls into an often humorous layer of events as the cast battle each other for the role of the superhero. The show explores the theme of the superhero within the human not matter what mental for physical state that person my find themselves and even at one time find the only non-disabled actor David Woods challenging the social norms in which people view people with disabilities and the subject of disabilities in general.
The show at first is very confusing and if you’re not familiar with the past work of the company find yourself trying to guess what is going on and who these people are. However any confusion was replaced with disbelief at the stunning performances of the cast, in particular the always organic and believable David Woods and Brian Tilley who provides quite a lot of humour to the story. Set, costume and lighting were all spectacular and the fantastic crescendo scene with the wind and flakes falling from the sky was a reminder of how stunning live theatre can be. Direction by Bruce Gladwin was generally well thought out and placed, but at moments lacked purpose.
All and all Super Discount has everything you need in a good piece of theatre. With brilliant performances, good story line (after you’ve worked it out) and is visually interesting. The show despite my personal opinions was still and exciting night out at the theatre.