THE Last Great Hunt, a collective of six Perth-born theatre makers, has gone from strength to strength this year.
It started with the theatrically innovative Helpmann-nominated season of Le Nor [The Rain] for Perth Festival, which will be followed by encore seasons of New Owner, The Irresistible and The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik (Awesome Festival 2019) around Australia.
“The response to Le Nor [The Rain] was fabulous,” ‘Hunter’ Gita Bezard said.
“It was a lot of hard work and incredibly ambitious, so we used every second of every day that we had.
“It was very different because I was on stage the whole time, but for half the time I would be operating a camera or holding a light. We were so glad it turned out so well.”
Next up for Perth audiences will be the premiere of new work Perpetual Wake at Subiaco Art Centre, directed by Bezard who co-wrote the play with Jeffrey Jay Fowler after being inspired during an improvisation exercise.
“We were writing all these tiny one-line stories about terrible people who had all done terrible, unethical things,” Bezard, of Bayswater, said.
“We wrote dozens and one of the stories was about a novelist who writes a book and a critic who takes this book way too far, deciding it’s their life and goes a bit crazy.
“That was the original feed of the idea and then amongst that we were doing all these improvisations using stags, hunting and dark, funny images that created a visual language for the show as well.”
The result is Perpetual Wake, a surreal comedy about 25-year old Instagram star Fiona West (Charlotte Otton) and book critic Paul Creel (Chris Isaacs) who misinterprets her debut novel, seeing himself reflected in accurate detail before discovering the book was intended to be a satire.
“Paul is older than Fiona and a very well-respected book critic who writes for an imagined national newspaper,” Bezard said.
“He wrote one book 12 years ago which was a huge success, but has been unable to complete a second novel after that, which has made him insecure.
“Half the show is set in the real world about this novel and this critic, while the other half is about what’s inside West’s book.
“The book is this sprawling, epic story of a man who has shot a stag and this woman who is hitchhiking. It’s shadowy and comical in its overly dramatic language.”
There was never any question that Bezard and Fowler would collaborate on writing Perpetual Wake, the pair considering it a good experiment having never co-written a play together.
Bezard said the process involved a lot of writing, rewriting and editing each other’s work to the point they could not tell who wrote what.
“It was a process where thankfully we knew each other well enough to be honest and the other person wouldn’t get offended,” she said.
“If you co-write you don’t want to be edging around not wanting to hurt each other’s feelings.We’ve been a bit brutal with each other but we knew we could handle it.”
Fowler’s desire to also perform in Perpetual Wake, playing multiple characters including the stag, has proven beneficial in the rehearsal room giving both writers a second job.
Performer Arielle Gray rounds out the cast in multiple roles as well.
“I’m really proud of how it’s come together,” Bezard said.
“The two different worlds, the one in the book and the real world, really complement each other and I think it’s quite a complex and interesting piece which hopefully audiences will enjoy.”
What: Perpetual Wake
Where: Subiaco Arts Centre
When: August 28 to September 7