Pitch blackness. As the lights dim up, we find ARIZONA SNOW. She's performing yoga (perhaps a reference to the Mumbai location) in her hotel apartment, when she topples sideways; capsizes. Whether part of the plot, pure symbolism, or both, was ambiguous - in an intriguing way. And so, the story commences. MARTIN MORECOMBE, junior journo/pencil-neck, fronting up to interview Arizona. Arizona's intention, to trumpet her film and bestselling memoirs. Martin's, to milk her for dirt on her pornography exploits (don't worry, this isn't X rated). First misstep he makes, an attempt to shake her hand. Consequently, interrogated about a facsimile she sent regarding "do's and don'ts". Afflicted by heat stress, not to mention Arizona's feistiness, his manners also disintegrate. In fact, his level of disrespect rapidly surpasses hers. His pugnaciousness offends. Arizona however, clearly well-versed in setting cynics straight, does so. And so, as the interview unravels into a no holds barred clash, the peeling of the onion begins.
photo credit: Dan A'Vard
There's several feelings I experienced. First and foremost, fascinated by the complexity. Whilst Arizona's an ex-pornstar, she's now a successful, fully diversified businesswoman. Yet as she showboats her extreme wealth, various credentials, beneath her bravado lies ultra-sensitivity. Others' opinions upset her - symbolized by the guard stationed outside (yet again, perhaps that's strictly owing to the surrounding turbulence). And take this Martin guy. Scrawny, passive-aggressive schmuck, who fancies himself as intellectually superior. Yet, completely unaware of Arizona's academic accolades! Pleased, was another feeling. And that was due to the depictions. Neither character's a role model. Pornstars nor reporters often are (not my sentiment, no offense intended). Yet, writer Andy Harmsen successfully portrays the human behind the occupation. We're thus awarded textured, 3D characters. For instance, Martin. He's rude, mean. Yet, not mean-hearted. Arizona. Stuck up. Yet, depressed. Admittedly, the characterisations initially felt shallow. But what seemed underdevelopment, eventually offset. Towards the finale, rewarded an abundance of 'inside information' - so as to thoroughly ground these characters. The dialogue felt a little expository at times. For instance, I'd rather have observed characters' reactions, than have them repeatedly uttered. Having said this, the audience appreciated what could otherwise be deemed openness, or perhaps frankness.
photo credit: Dan A'Vard
Foreign Bodies (starring Marika Marosszeky and Alan Chambers) is an ambitious play. Does it deliver? As much as you'd expect me to side with the play, you're right, I do. Something special about it. Really. I think it stems from the overarching structure. The interview itself cleverly progressed from an intellectual conversation to a visceral interaction. I don't mean in a raunchy way (though there was brief physicality - again, not X rated). Rather, what it means to be human. Yes, we have hardships, challenges. But we're ultimately physical beings, are we not? I think this play did a great job of not only reminding me, but impressing that truism. And this wasn't through story alone. But audience experience too. For instance, whilst I was waiting for these characters to be pushed out of their element, I felt curiously unsettled. Why? Cos what they were experiencing, so was I. Powerful performances, profound characters, urban cacophony, actors mere metre away - not only emotionally invested, but senses attuned. Not only privy to this tête-à-tête, but part of it.