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A Layered and Energetic Piece of Theatre: D*ck Pics in The Garden of Eden

As a gay atheist, it’s safe to assume what first drew me to Jeffrey Jay Fowler’s D*ck Pics in The Garden of Eden, which opened last Friday at the Subiaco Arts Centre. However, the promise of penis pics aside, a stacked cast of Perth’s heavy-hitting actors and Fowler’s reputation alone should be enough to send audiences in droves over the garden wall and into this delightfully strange reimaging of Eden.

D*ck Pics in the Garden of Eden: Photography Daniel J Grant

I have a novice understanding of the bible and the myth of divine creation, but I can guarantee that anyone with a firm grasp on the story of the first man has never seen an interpretation like this one. Fowler shifts the focus of the story from Adam and Eve to Lilith, the actual first woman and in doing so makes obvious the misogyny and patriarchy that was planted in the bible alongside the plants and… ‘animals’. When the pair are dispensed from Eden they are propelled through time and space and it is through this lens that D*ck Pics explores the perils and pitfalls of a virtuous, heteronormative-monogamous-patriarchal life.

Short and sharp episodes give us insight to key moments of the character’s lives. Adam and Eve’s son Cain getting in trouble with his school principal, the creative development of Lilith’s one-woman show, and Eve’s entry to the neighbourhood garden competition. Most of the scenes are poignant, funny, and thought-provoking. While others, though entertaining, are unclear in what they offer to the overall discussion in the piece.

D*ck Pics in the Garden of Eden: Photography Daniel J Grant

As mentioned, Fowler has assembled an impressive cast for their latest work. Tyrone Earl Lraé Robinson has set the bar higher than ever before for an actor cast as ‘tree’ and his charisma shines throughout the performance as Cain. With perhaps the smallest acting role Joanna Tu is energetic and engaging, and Iya Ware delivers a particularly confident performance as Lilith that only an expert could retrieve. David Vickman, however, in his various ensemble roles is a show stealer. At first sight he is an impressive presence on stage and funny until his last.

The production itself is seamless. On opening night, it was announced that a non-contagious illness had led to a last-minute change in command between Sophia Morgan (SM) and Georgia Sealey (ASM). It should be noted that this pre-show announcement was the only indication of such an event and the production ran sharp and smooth as planned.

D*ck Pics in the Garden of Eden: Photography Daniel J Grant

Two high-def cameras either side of the stage live stream the finer details of facial expressions and gestures onto two large canvases hung in Maeli Cherel’s set. Cherel’s design provides a textured canvas for all other elements of the performance to paint across, while maintaining a cohesion to the otherwise wild and eclectic storytelling and costumes. The addition of the livestream provides an intimacy through the projection of small-scale acting choices. In particular, Jo Morris, Arielle Gray, and Chris Isaac of Le Nør fame respond to this addition like a duck to water.

There is much that could be said about this work. It is thematically rich, cheeky, joyful, and surprising. There are moments of delight juxtaposed with grief and sadness. As usual Fowler has written a layered and energetic piece of theatre that reminds us of the talent and ingenuity we host here in Perth. 

And yes, you will see a dick 😉

D*ck Pics in the Garden of Eden is on now at The Subiaco Arts Centre through to December 3.