The Universe is calling – forget iconic shows like Star wars and Star Trek – Return to the Forbidden Planet is a wild ride where Mad Men meets Rocky Horror in outer space!
This production of Bob Carlton’s classic musical Return to the Forbidden Planet is a total sensory treat that draws on Shakespeare, old TV shows and the great rock and roll classics from the 1950’s but unlike vintage TV has a cast of all women. It was the idea of Gender that first attracted director Bryce Ives to the work.. "In stories like Forbidden Planet the female character is always a helpless damsel in distress, physically attractive and provocatively dressed, but dumb, and in need of “saving” by the male hero," he explains. "I am interested in the nature of femininity, it’s power and how many writers and thinkers have often been petrified by women. (It’s no accident that the opening song of this production is the misogynistic classic It’s a Mans World.) We didn’t purposely set out to cast only women. It just felt like a boys world worth investigating, and destroying."
Bryce concedes though that when he decided to cast only women, he was instantly confronted with the complexities of gender and modern theatre performance. "Are they women playing men? Have the characters switched gender? Or are they Drag Kings? Of the thirty-eight surviving plays attributed to Shakespeare, about one-fifth involve cross dressing, it seems like an interesting point for a theatrical investigation," he says.
'If I were a woman
I would kiss as many of you as had beards that pleased
me, complexions that liked me and breaths that I
defied not: and, I am sure, as many as have good
beards or good faces or sweet breaths will, for my
kind offer, when I make curtsy, bid me farewell'.: ROSALIND, As You Like It (Epilogue)
Bryce continues: "These words were once uttered at the Globe Theatre by a boy actor, dressed as Rosalind. At any moment the boy could unmask the convention and remind us: it’s only performance. Only theatre can do that."
The show is being performed at the Monash Uni performing arts space: “You’ve never seen the Alexander Theatre like this before," explains Ives. "Walk into the foyer and you are transported to another world in another galaxy, surrounded by black and white television screens (which are another world to Generation Y!) and a creepy, atmospheric rundown theatre that is part theatre and part television studio. “
All of this sounds right up Ives' 'visionary director' status and speaks volumes about how his interest in bulking collaborative theatre. "We started in an empty room. A collaborative theatre making process followed demanding a very active approach to the making of this work. The cast work regularly in Viewpoints and Composition training, and have gone above and beyond in their journey of questioning, shattering and building the work." he says.
The show does sound like an eclectic mix of sci-fi, music, cinematic styles of the past and a weird study in English Literature but for Ives, who agrees that Forbidden Planet is usually known for its strange combination of Shakespearian text, Rock and Roll music and Science Fiction parodies, but, he concedes, this production has built into something more surreal and sensational. It's like a Kubrekian version of Rocky Horror, with many nods to the Bard.
"Theatre isn't concrete and absolute," says Ives. "It can be contradictory and full of endless possibility. We ask you to imagine everything and nothing. Gender is ambiguous: our women are men and women, masculine and feminine, it matters and it doesn’t matter."
"The epilogue of A Midsummer Night’s Dream closes Forbidden Planet and acts as a timely reminder. We mean no offense. If this story seems whimsical or silly, think of it as a manifestation of the subconscious, nothing more and nothing less."
This is a production suitable for all ages but especially suitable for space lovers. Shakespeare lovers. Rock and Roll lovers. Hipsters. Intellects. Nerds. Jocks. Geriatrics and juveniles.
See it tonight at Monash Uni
Bookings 9905 1111 or book on line www.monash.edu/apa