Acts of Faith – Melvyn Morrow and the ownership of “facts” (Theatre Review)
Acts of Faith
King Street Theatre from 18 July to 5 August
Surely the placement of the Property Developer and the Nun in a real estate deal is one of the most modern examples of the spheres of fiction and representation exemplified in real life. Capitalism may have given us many ills, but no one can accuse it of hiding its unpleasantness. Revealed for all two see is this titanic collision of optimism and unquestioning belief. For who is more optimistic than she who devotes her life to religion who more passionately devoted to an unquestioned belief than a property developer? Melvyn Morrows point is that each can be reversed, we can argue the unquestioned belief is that of the nun and crass optimism that of the developer, but property is here, not only the great leveller, but equally the great establishment of common ground.
This is the strange world we live in now, where narrative is easily and simply co-opted for the other “side” and if Capitalism has given us any gifts (stay with me here – I am a true leftie) it has revealed our perpetual ugliness to ourselves, the largest of which, surely is the complete refutation of moral black and white and the triumph of shades of grey. What confidence is to belief, consistency is to logic and representation. Each is a guarantee of authenticity, a moratorium on fluctuations of meaning or value. Yet worse than rationalism having the power to persuade, it now has the power to camouflage, and we have found it to be a faithless lover. In Acts of Faith, Melvyn Morrow twists and turns the morality of two dubious individuals in a constant battle of co-opting the ideological stand of the other. Perhaps ideology has always been spurious, but Capitalism has brought the supreme doubt of authenticity into our lives like a dagger to the heart.
Within Acts of Faith, Melvyn Morrow constantly challenges the worth of consistency to themselves, or the severe fidelity of the work of their lives to “real life” itself. We now know no one is properly represented by their profession, but under that we find neither are we properly represented by anything else – so why blame profession in the first place? The destruction of clarified roles, for women, for men, for children, for races, has left us with no definitions; but that is the challenge! If we must define, upon what grounds? Or do we do away with definitions and therefore rationalism all together? We come again to Nietzsche’s argument that a new set of morals are required and those of us who love political correctness are desperately trying to establish a morality not based in the church. But we find, as with all construction these days, that the land upon which we build was stolen from another, and we are (constantly) rendered helpless. We now know that in serving a concrete reality the work of fiction (that is our lives) betrays a profounder one. A subtext of Melvyn Morrows work could read, fiction is all that exists. You are your story.
Viewed as the theatre of the unmasking of the ideal, Melvyn Morrows text seems to continue endlessly in a very funny demolition derby, with each successive incarnation of the ideal shattered in the textual machinery. The catch here is, the unholy place where language games border on power, where the voices of the operators declaim in the interest of identifiable institutions that exist in some form or another; More so today than ever before. Perhaps it is not so much that we have no moral guide, rather we keep accidently acting against our morality, and wake up to find ourselves in bed with the enemy.
All this is wrapped up into Melvyn Morrows signature wit, delight in the life’s moral conundrums and his obvious delight in irony. Director Elaine Hudson is equally comfortable with the text, moving her protagonists around the stage like chess pieces, calling forth joyful, sly happy performances that leave one feeling hopeful, despite the gravity of the conversation in front of us. Taylor Owynns and Joseph Ju Taylor are equally at ease with their characters, having a ton of fun, and playing up all the joyful little twists and turn that make this ninety minutes rocket along.
Acts of Faith is another little gem from the Kings Street Theatre, a lovely little bohemian space in Kings Street Newtown that engages with the growing vibrancy of that end of the Newtown part of Sydney. I get a great deal of creative pleasure from my visits there and always get a sense of hopefulness that theatre like this is happening! You just have to know where to look.