Though I failed to catch The Bedroom Philosopher at the Melbourne Fringe Festival, I did get to see Ming-Zhu Hii’s Attract/Repel at The Store Room. Attract/Repel is a not-play performed by The Melbourne Town Players about race and racism; it had been recommended to me by fellow blogger, Estelle Tang. I walked into Attract/Repel, knowing very little about it, so it was nice to watch something sans preconceptions/expectations.
Attract/Repel had no distinct narrative. Instead, four actors interacted with each other on stage, and racist humour was juxtaposed against the sharing of personal experiences with racism. One actor, Terry Yeboah, explained how difficult it had been to stop his mates from using ‘nigger’ as a term of endearment. Another actor, Fanny Hanusin, described the hate she felt after witnessing the aftermath of the racism riots in Indonesia.
Whilst Attract/Repel’s racist humour often felt like a deliberate manipulation of the audience, I could not help but feel moved by the honesty in the actors’ monologues; I thought the play was brilliant on an emotive as well as conceptual level. My theatre knowledge is nearly non-existent, however, so you might want to check out Alison Croggon’s post at Theatre Notes for a more detailed review of the performance.