Melbourne Fringe 2016

Missa Pro Venerabilibus, Melbourne Fringe 2016

0 Comments 20 September 2016

Words by Tom Taylor

We, the congregants, enter and are asked to inspect the relics of the church.

This church is a space at Footscray Community Arts Centre, not perfect, a little new and boxy, will do.

Hymn sheets at the ready, the service is underway.

A trio of cloaked, older women lead us in humming, then hymning.

The lyrics have been rewritten, we have lived, we are still living, they say.

The service starts slow, a little jolty.

The trio twist egg timers, and for the rest of the show these will tick, tick, tick, tick and then time’s up. As each timer announces its end, we chant, “Yea verily yea”. If I’d seen a single film predating 1990, I might know it to be a reference to The Court Jester.

We are led to the relics again; the trio and then we share stories of objects. Though it was never in doubt,  the fourth wall has been reduced to rubble.

The congregants are re-arranged in the pews and the trio are warming up now.

We the congregants are handed blueberries, veils and enough symbolism to know that this is a celebration of secular ageing. Cheeky and sincere. 

We the congregants don moustaches of youth and our three don beards of wisdom.

There are readings from Caryl Churchill and Judith Wright. All hail Caryl who just keeps making magic at 78.

We are asked to dance, we dance, we are asked to offer our favourite words. Full disclosure, I offer fabulous. They are.

The trio call on us to make noise before the silence comes and envelops us all.

The trio are dead, and covered in rose petals.

They are reborn in full colour, cocoons that have burst open adorned with headpieces made of women’s wellness mags.

The service is over in an hour, cue ‘Can you feel it’ by the The Jackson 5. We dance, the spirit of living is alive here. Some congregants leave their moustaches on as they huddle outside the theatre. 

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