Poppy Seed Festival: What’s Yours is Mine

Hotel Now is quite a daring ensemble. Since 2013 the company has been making political performance that can only really be given the appellation of “wild.” They dance along the boundaries of theatre; they frolic in slow motion into the borderlands, the wilderness, no, the bush of our shared cultural identity.

What's Yours is Mine. Photo by Theresa Harrison
What’s Yours is Mine. Photo by Theresa Harrison

And if you’re ready for such a thing, if you’re willing to play the game, if you’re up to the foray into the darkest areas of your (and my) collective psychosis: What’s Yours Is Mine will not disappoint.

The work examines Australian identity, specifically our emphasis on ownership (of land, property, culture and so on) and the various excesses that such an attitude produces. It achieves this rather complex cultural critique by constructing a sort of vortex, a palimpsest of cultural icons and Australian stereotypes, which floats around a central narrative: Olly, Syd and Millie (characters influenced by the Sydney Olympics mascots) set off on a road trip to find themselves. What follows are a number of asides, detours and game shows, which question what it means to be Australian.

What’s Yours Is Mine is packed, almost to bursting, with cultural references: from stereotypes that we’ve inherited, to films, advertisements and political speeches. But something very interesting occurs when we rub these things up against one another, when we watch them play-out in real time onstage. It’s somewhat disturbing to find oneself blissfully unaware of xenophobic speeches delivered at parliament house, yet contentedly humming along to the Vegemite theme. It seems to highlight our (very Australian) aptitude for picking and choosing parts of culture and ignoring the rest (rather than, for example, confronting it).

This work makes political theatre fun.

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