Homme is an interactive performance art installation created by House of Vnholy presented by Speakeasy. An expository work, which investigates the masculine psyche through a lens of feminism, Homme aims to invoke introspection within audience members and question what it truly means to be a man within today’s society.

Walking into a space with white flooring we were invited to sit or stand wherever we would like. Two actors, Matthew Adey and Natalie Abbott roamed the space and asked some audience members to assist them set up the space. A strange mesh sack of black balloons hangs from the wall, a washing machine sits ominously, and a deflated exercise ball is slowly pumped in the corner. These sights are intriguing and bizarre.

A soundscape of alienating creaks and cracks grows in volume assaulting the senses. The performance begins and what follows surprises and fascinates. Vignettes that explore the naked human form may inspire conversation of how both men and women in their most natural form interact with the pressures of a cynical and judgemental society.

We witness both Adey and Abbott strip naked, struggle with the weight of a symbolic podium, then re-dress themselves in their dripping wet blacks. It was a peculiar and somewhat comedic sight.

The show then concluded rather abruptly and I must say I left feeling underwhelmed. Whilst the display of physical prowess was very impressive I felt that the content was not effectively explored, and the intention of the piece was lost in an attempt to force viewers to actively engage. Each vignette felt too far disconnected and abstracted to pertain accessible meaning. Homme was designed to impact upon the Melbourne theatre scene and promote healthy discourse about an important and under explored topic. I was disappointed to walk back into the foyer after the 40 minutes or so surrounded by other eager theatregoers to hear very little discussion of the pertinent topic but rather confused questioning of what had just been witnessed.

Unfortunately Homme under delivered. I do believe that the idea behind this piece has great potential, and I congratulate the creators and actors for continually pushing the boundaries to explore important themes. I feel that more can be done to create a rounded piece that holistically targets a misconception about masculinity to effectively connect with an audience.

Homme was an interesting experience that I did enjoy. The performances are powerful but the piece as a whole feels vacant and detached. If you are looking for the true fringe pieces in this Melbourne Fringe Festival, Homme may be what you’re looking for. Be prepared to be challenged, and at times uncomfortable. It is true avant-garde exploration of a social construct. Interesting, but perhaps too far left of centre for me.

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