Writing by Madi Lo-Booth // photographs by Oscar Shaw
If you could rewrite the world, what would it look like?
An endless stream of dance parties and punk music? The elimination of plastic? True equality between the sexes? Rearing a baby with your besties?
Playing at Theatreworks, St Kilda until Saturday 1 April, Trash Pop Butterflies, Dance Dance Paradise provides some cues as to how this might look. In a high octane 70 minutes, the girl gang of your teenage dreams plots the new world order interspersed with reminders of the effects of climate change on non-human life.
Kitty (Alana Louise) is the bossy ringleader who alongside airy-fairy Moon (Hayley Edwards) and realist Pepper (Vivian Nguyen), choreograph dance routines and chat real politics like, “is Taylor Swift a feminist icon?” Also on their agenda is Utopia, the place where creativity thrives and global warming is conquered.
Alternating between the human and non-human scale, playwright Maki Morita uses the stage as a magnifying glass to explore what human life might look like to the creatures around us and how climate change is affecting them. Played by Myfawny Hocking and Margot Morales, we see life from the perspective of butterflies, bees, cuckoos, frogs and spiders. These scenes provide comedic relief but also situate the girl gang’s desire to overthrow the status quo in today’s pressing climate catastrophe.
The crew’s journey to Utopia is not clear cut. Comically, it involves the help of Kmart employees and kidnapping. Security guard/failed soccer star Dave (Myfawny Hocking) and cashier chick Martha (Margot Morales) represent the gap between reality and dreams. This is emphasised in a standout scene with a knockout vocal performance by Morales, who in the role of Martha, laments her desire to sell scarves on Etsy in the aisles of Kmart.
A real strong point of the play, directed by Amelia Burke, is the seamless transition into song and dance, which act as punctuation marks. These moments, alongside the scenes of non-human life (for example, the spider sex scene), work to create an absurdist reality that pays off if you let yourself succumb to it in all of its hallucinogenic splendour. There’s no need to question why a baby has green laser eyes and turns into a flower. Maybe it just does, okay?
In a whirlwind of zesty one-liners (my favourite being “to have for free is to be free”), Trash Pop manages to celebrate the contradictions of youthful idealism while putting forward a provocative and inspiring message: there’s wonder and beauty somewhere amongst the trash this generation has inherited.
It’s up to us to find it.
Trash Pop Butterflies, Dance Dance Paradise is playing at Theatreworks, St Kilda 22 April – 1 April 2023. Get your tickets here.