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Concussion - The Most Disgusting Play

Author: Darryn King
Monday, 16 March 2009

Australian playwright Ross Mueller last befuddled and bedazzled Sydney audiences with the fractured and disorienting Construction Of The Human Heart. 3D’s Darryn King got him talking about his latest fractured, disorienting and disgusting play, Concussion, happening over at Wharf2.

So what’s the story of Concussion-
A man is concussed before the show and he has to work out what happened. When I say “before the show” it’s important to note that we don’t actually concuss a man before each show. This man is a character – he doesn’t really exist and so – yes – ‘before the show’ is really only referring to the back story of the play. Nobody gets beaten before our show. We save that for the opening night party. Concussion is the most disgusting play I’ve ever written.

What was your first germ of an idea for this script-
I was in New York City and I felt like I knew the place, but had no idea where I was. I was jet-lagged, but these landmarks were so overwhelmingly familiar and because it’s a grid pattern over there, you really can’t get lost. It reminded me of being concussed. I thought that was interesting because we seem to be living in a concussed kind of way now. Paris Hilton is more influential than Brendan Nelson. I’m not judging Paris on this – or Brendan, really.

Can you tell us a little about developing the script – and what you did with it in New York-
The first development was in Melbourne with Theatre@Risk. They gave me a day with some actors and it was grand. Then it got picked up for the National Play Festival in Brisbane, run by Playwriting Australia and then it won the New York New Dramatists Exchange Award and so I went with it to New York. I was lucky enough to sit next to it on the plane. Whilst there, in the Apple of Big-ness, we workshopped it with American actors. It was great; they were the entire cast of CSI: NY. They looked like cops, turned up late like actors and talked loud like Americans. They said, “This is the most disgusting play you’ve ever written!” They were very supportive.

As a playwright, what attractions do you see, and challenges do you encounter, in non-linear storytelling for the theatre-
The challenge is to not lose sight of the audience. Don’t forget that people only see this once and ultimately we just want to have a satisfying night out, not an experience in jigsaw solving. It is the most disgusting play I’ve ever written.

It’s been said that Sydney theatre is behind Melbourne when it comes to experimenting with theatrical form… Do you have a take on that-
I think Sydney rocks. I think Melbourne has lost her heart and Sydney is standing on her own two feet. It’s not a competition, you know- But if it was, Sydney would win right now for me. I mean come on – they’re premiering Concussion, and it is the most disgusting play I’ve ever written.

The internet plays a big part in the play. What is it about the internet that interests you-

I love it, I hate it, I need it, I bought it. Concussion is like the internet. Accessible, sexy, funny and dark and very, very post-Kurt Cobain. The internet has solved all our problems and caused all of our nightmares to come true. It has made stars out of bloggers and given credit where credit is not due. Concussion is aware that the internet exists, and I don’t mind mentioning… it is the most enjoyable play I’ve ever written.

WHAT: Concussion
WHERE: Wharf2, Sydney Theatre
WHEN: Until Saturday 4 April
MORE: sydneytheatre.com.au

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