MKA are officially my favourite company this year. With no funding, a diabolical sense of it’s-ok-to-be-wrong and a middle-finger salute to boring theatre, their battle with a local council made them stronger and, at only months old, they have established themselves as one of those Melbourne companies who have to be seen.
MKA call themselves the theatre of new writing and already have the support of some of our best playwrights. Founded by Tobias Manderson-Galvin and Glyn Roberts, they finally have a home above the Prahran Mission in the still-groovy Windsor end of Chapel Street, and rarely has an office been so gorgeously transformed into a theatre.
22 Short Plays is by David Finnigan. With a sketch structure that is far funnier than any sketch show, Finnigan embraces the perception of gen-Y apathy and mixes it with a distorted look at the blandness of a society ruled by commercialism. And there’s a great cum joke, a near-perfect conversation with God and who wouldn’t watch a sitcom called Sad Threesomes!
Narratively, there’s room for some more coherency and some editing would punch up some of the jokes that are a bit flat – but such minor quibbles are nothing at this stage of development. This is bloody funny stuff and I’ll be in line to see Finnigan’s next work.
The on-stage coherency comes from Manderson-Galvin’s in-your-face direction, which ensures character and contrast in every sketch and knows how to make the most of the individual talents on the stage (Conner Gallacher, Paul Blenheim and Ellen Grimshaw).
He also has a strange obsession with ELO. Don’t get me wrong, I thought ELO rocked when I was a pre-teen, and when they did Xanadu with our Livvy, the excitement of my favourite musical talents combining with a movie about roller skates and an angel was almost too much. Now, I just feel old now because ELO have become ironic.
Another MKA name to keep an eye on is resident designer David Samuel. Not long out of VCA, his design of Honey Bunny’s Sagittarian Full Moon Finale stood out at Midsumma and he’s establishing his his love-of-symbols style with MKA.
If we’re to support and maintain a challenging, positive and brave theatre community, we need companies like MKA.
Until 16 June, 2011