Aussie Aussie Aussie loves big things. From Kingston’s Big Lobster to Goulburn’s Big Merino, we flock to tacky ugly giant critters, but it’s taken The Suitcase Royale to show us how much we need a giant zombie wombat to visit in the middle of nowhere.

Indie style meets 70s ozploitation at the Blue Lagoon caravan park. Brothers Mayor and Daryl Grogan are still running the holiday spot and programming its Danish film festival, but they’re the only ones left alive after attacks by zombie wombats. When a Stranger arrives with his crumpet gun, it’s time to take control and face their demons – and the zombie wombats.

Arts House and The Suitcase Royale,  ZOMBATLAND, photo by Ponch Hawke
The Suitcase Royale, ZOMBATLAND, photo by Ponch Hawke

Zombatland is the newest experience from Joseph O’Farrell, Miles O’Neil, Glen Walton and newest Royale Tom Salisbury, on lights. It’s not possible to passively watch a Royale show. They play live music, talk out of character  and invite the audience to share their wonderful game of pretend that is so real that you’ll never again look at a cuddly wombat without a slight shudder of fear.

Its out of town try out was in Edinburgh and there are only a handful of performances in their hometown. This is cruel and unfair. The chaotic joy as they nipple-cripple the zeitgeist deserves to be shared with as many people as possible.

Hundreds of thousands will see the squizillion-dollar animatronic dragons in the sports arena, but only hundreds can share the unbridled awesomeness of father and son zombie wombats made from what looks like a fuzzy beanbag that survived too many teen parties and was dragged out on hard rubbish day by the family dog who refused to sleep on anything so hideous.

And it possibly was. Cruising hard rubbish collections and haunting op shops, the Royale’s aesthetic has developed from creating props, sets, costumes and instruments from found and recycled objects. This loving of the disguarded layers unknown and unspoken stories into their world and lets junk become art.

Zombatland is part of the wonderful Arts House program and is on at the North Melbourne Town Hall until Sunday. Its madness is magnificent and will leave you grinning all day and heading to a bakery for a bright yellow pineapple doughnut.

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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