Privatising Parts

ARTS, Theatre & Performing Arts

Based on the book by Richard Meros
Performed by Heleyni Pratley
Directed by Eleanor Bishop
BATS Theatre | October 2-6

In the emotional wake of spurned adoration, Richard Meros returns to the stage once again in Heleyni Pratley’s adaptation of Meros’s book, Privatising Parts. Meros, a betrayed Helen Clark devotee, has come to a simple resolution: the privatisation of sexual/emotional human relations as a means to eradicate the tribulations of love. This vision is presented in the form of a well-structured debate, simulated through the use of a nine-point plan, miniature laboratory, and case studies of his/her own grieving process caught on film.

By and large, this is a very enjoyable show. Pratley’s portrayal of the besotted Meros nicely contrasts with the grotesquery of her presentation, all held together by break-neck energy that never appears misplaced or unnecessary. The re-presentation of Meros as a woman cleverly extends the mythology beyond its original manifestation (two previous shows, both written/performed by Arthur Meek), and seems quite appropriate for the nature of the show itself—much of the play contemplates bodily enhancement or adaptation, and indeed, this sense of physical and emotional change perpetuates much of her argument.

The stage itself is a combination of theatrical trope and whimsy. A small projector to the right serves to display the blog-like updates of Meros’s emotional trauma, and has a simultaneous feed to the camera fixed on the lab in centre stage. The lab is, I found, an utter joy, and the saticfaction watching its use both in real life and on screen complemented its simplicity. A small green square is a ground on which dolls role play, a plate gets painted in food colouring, and a blender turns on and off. This is a very naïve science, you could say, that enhances the argument in sheer sensory effect (pretty colours/loud noises/world of humans rendered in miniature), and ultimately reveals the ridiculous in Meros’s obsession. A large nine-page chart presents each new topic of discussion, and to the far left sits a microphone in which poetic confessions are uttered. Pratley’s transition from a full body white forensic suit to sparkly sequin dress marks the awesomeness that is Randy Corp, the technological being that Meros attributes all future regulation of relationships, complete with theme song.

The overall production speaks with a satirical intent that is never fully realised, but I’m not content to attribute that to the energetic performance or the desgin, both of which were enormously entertaining. I did, however, leave the theatre a little unconvinced.