The Orchid & the Crow

Daniel Tobias is almost unrecognisable as Otto Rot of the endlessly wonderful comedy duo band Die Roten Punkte. There’s no keytar and makeup in The Orchid & the Crow but there is rock, and rocks, in Dan’s story of getting testicular cancer.

The Orchid & The Crow. Daniel Tobias. Photo by Andrew Wuttke
Daniel Tobias. Photo by Andrew Wuttke

When I watched a too-young friend die from cancer, I couldn’t watch or hear cancer stories for some time, but I think I would have loved this one. I certainly loved it last night. Loved it to bits.

Ten years ago Dan was 29 and feeling crook. He was asked the same questions by different doctors and was finally diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer, which had spread up to his neck. Yep, stage three (there’s no stage five) and it and had spread through the lymph (that’s not good). He doesn’t have it anymore.

This isn’t an earnest story about how to whip the big C. Mixing rock, cabaret and confessional, it’s about faith and family, circumcision and being a yes-and-no Jew, and understanding what girls think about balls.

There’s no preaching but he does reach out to a god. A god whom Dan found when a nurse handed him a book. A god who overcame the impossible and achieved the more impossible. A god who gave hope to the young man who was facing his very possible death. And if gods aren’t for offering hope, what’s the point of them?

Lance Armstrong was this god.

Athlete, cancer-beater, charity founder and winner of so many Tour de Frances that some people joked that the only way to do that was to artificially enhance oneself.

Dan’s team – who are far more amazing and less injecty than Armstrong’s – include Christian Leavesly (director); Casey Bennetto (dramaturg); David Quick (script consultant); and Clare (Astrid Rot) Barthlolomew, John Thorn and Jhereck Bischoff (music).

With such support, Dan’s very personal story’s been shaped to balance the personal with the distant, and the poignant with the piss-yourself funny, to tell a truth that reaches everyone who’s sharing it.

It’s gutsy, hilarious and honest. Or go for the song about God telling Abraham about the covenant about chopping bits of penis off.

It’s a guaranteed ball.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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