Christ Almighty is pure, unadulterated, uncensored rock’ n’ roll theatre at its best. Crazy, chaotic, and ambitious, this play is the well-executed bastard brainchild of director and actor extraordinaire Natalie Medlock and co-writer Dan Musgrove. It is on at Bella Union, Level 1 Trades Hall, Corner Victoria and Lygon streets (entry via Lygon Street) Carlton until December 10.
Q. What was the inspiration for this production?
A. Initially Christ Almighty was written out of a need to raise money for improvements to a theatre in Auckland. The play was written as a fundraiser to get people in the acting community involved and was always written with the notion of a rotating cast to allow for maximum community participation and fun. Everyone is donating their time and creating their own costumes too.
Q. Why was homelessness chosen for the fundraiser this time around?
A. I’ve seen a lot of homelessness in Australia. Alan Brough, one of the actors, works closely with Launch Housing and recommended the charity. Being Christmas, it was a great cause to support this time of year.
Q. What can theatregoers expect from Christ Almighty?
A. Lots of fun. A really good laugh. At the heart of it, it’s a healthy relationship with satire on the Christmas story and what it has become in terms of the capitalist money spending enterprise as opposed to the message of the heart. It talks about no room at the inn which speaks to the homeless situation too. The audience leaves with the notion of people bonding together at the end of the experience.
Q. How did you go about bringing all the actors on board and selecting the cast?
A. Part of it was stalking. Part of it was contacts I already had. There’s a strong Kiwi contingent in the play – a lot of the actors are from the original production. Morgana O’Reilly, Sara Wiseman, Cameron Rhodes, Robbie Magasiva, Asa Tofete and Danielle Cormack were all part of the original production.
Q. What’s it like directing a multitude of actors for the same character? Do you find the play and the characters changing depending on the individual actor’s spin?
A. It’s very interesting. It’s been a wonderful challenge. It’s hugely rewarding and energising encouraging the actors to play and have fun as much as possible. As a result of the different cast make up all productions are radically different. Part of the fun is seeing different actors playing the same roles – so it’s worth coming again and again.
Q. Did you have a way to control that or did you prefer to ride it and see where it goes?
A. This is very much a production that encourages the actors to make big choices and have as much fun as possible. Part of the fun is that the actors are so adept and skilled that they naturally go out on a limb. It’s clear that the audience loves seeing them playing in the moment.
Q. Would you ever be brave enough to try something like this again?
Absolutely. There’s another script waiting called Toys that I will be doing, again with a rotating cast, so that’s in the works.
Q. In prepping for the shows, what has been the highlight so far?
A. I think seeing the money roll in for Launch Housing has been the highlight. It’s been a successful fundraiser and the feedback has been amazing. The audience has been beside themselves. I was so relieved with opening night’s success and it runs until December 10.
Q. Any thoughts to take this show on the road?
Sydney would be nice but anything is possible. I will focus on finishing this one first, catch my breath, and then once this one is under our belt I will think about it. Maybe even look at options for next Christmas.
Q. What is next for you Natalie?
A. I write broad ridiculous comedy that tends to be dark and insane. I currently have a web series called The Yeti Show and I also have a few feature films in commission. I’m working on a short film starring Robyn Malcolm (of Upper Middle Bogan fame) that I’m editing which has been funded by the New Zealand Film Commission – so watch this space.
For details on where to catch this production, dates and cast lists head to http://www.bellaunion.com.au/program_guide/show_1001/
Presented by Launch Housing in association with Bella Union. Make a donation to the homeless this Christmas. Launch Housing is an independent Melbourne based community organisation formed from the merger of HomeGround Services and Hanover in July 2015.