#METOO protests may have slipped from the front pages, but the pause in finger-pointing and shaming has opened the way for the arts to take a nuanced – but still pointy – look at where to next.
Fremantle Theatre Company will follow up last year’s debut breakthrough featuring Grey’s Anatomy star Kate Walsh with a local ensemble tackling the thorny issue of relationship consent in Meat, which opens August 17.
FTC artistic director Renato Fabretti says Meat is a “searing” comedy set in a bustling Dublin restaurant of the same name.
“It’s like a well-cooked steak, for a metaphor; it really is scorching on the outside, but super tender on the inside,” Fabretti said.
“What I’m interested in as an artistic director is creating a conversation that leads an audience towards being comfortable with the messiness – the grey.
“You don’t get to lynch someone and blame and point a finger and lose your shit on Facebook.
“For me it’s more profound and nuanced; how do we engage people in a fresh, or new, or deep way that does affect change.”
Fabretti brings his own understanding of #metoo, having “been pulled into a room by someone with power over me”, but acknowledges it’s predominantly about the experiences of women.
“I’m fortunate enough to have a perspective, but I don’t have a female friend who hasn’t.
“I say that again; I literally do not have a female friend that hasn’t dealt with some level of harassment at work at the highest levels, or some continued pursuit in backchannels, or just the day-to-day misogyny veering on harassment veering on assault.”
The play is the international debut of Gillian Greer, an Irish literary agent who saw hundreds of plays cross her desk before finding her own voice.
Fabretti says the lilting Irish accent is the perfect foil for the messy topic.
“This reminds me of The Smiths; you’ve got this beautiful Johnny Marr melody, but you’ve got this horrific subject matter from Morrissey.”
The three-hand cast includes NIDA graduate Georgia Wilkinson-Derums, whose side-gig as a punk rocker Fabretti reckons helps give her a “scalpel sharp” stage persona (locals might remember her from her time with pint-size Freo rockers The Flairz back in the early noughties).
Ally Harris trained under the renowned Guildhall School Educators in a French conservatory and featured in the current season of Harrow, screening on ABC, while the testosterone is provided by White Gum Valley’s Declan Brown, who Fabretti has previously worked with in youth theatre and describes as a “violently good performer”.
“Declan is a ‘brought up by his own bootstraps’ kind of self-trained local, and I really believe in artists that have found their own path,” Fabretti says.
“It’s something that Kate Walsh was very passionate about, having got to meet Dalip, Lucy and Mararo (FTC’s first cast), that there is this staggering talent living in Fremantle that can go toe-to-toe with her, and in Dalip’s case win best actor for the year.
“Our feedback from the last show is that’s what people are crying for; great new plays, great new talent.”
Meat will run from August 17 – September 12 at Victoria Hall on High Street. Tix from https://premier. ticketek.com.au/shows/show. aspx?sh=MEAT21
By STEVE GRANT