Mid-Sem break issue
By Duncan Willis & Jacob Kairouz
MindQuest - Journey into Forever is the latest production from the Melbourne University Comedy Revue Board, also known as Mudcrabs. It’s a wild questing adventure to save all of humanity and it’s playing right now at the Melbourne Uni Guild Theatre as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
The premise of MindQuest will be quite familiar to those whom, like the authors, grew up admiring Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant’s portrayals of The Doctor, (before giving up during the Matt Smith years). The protagonist, Ava is stuck in a hapless dead-end job serving entitled Sydney Road hipsters in a ‘trendy’ bookshop - café. All of a sudden the mysterious Evelyn appears and informs Ava that she is in grave danger, along with all of the multi-verse. The oft-named and never seen ‘Vortons’ have been released and are consuming everything with their negative energy.
The only way to save everyone is to embark on an unexplainable lengthy quest to find who let the Vortons out and recapture them. Ava and Evelyn gather another hardy companion, the onesie wearing Gil, and set off on their quest. Our heroes leap from situation to situation, always managing to leave just before the Vortons pounce. Among other things, they relax at an alien cantina with a 5-foot-tall frog, start a revolution at a junk factory, get enslaved by a pride of lions and arrive at a forest at the end of the world.
The production included some interesting social commentary on work and pop culture. We started off in a cafe in Brunswick with verbally abusive customers and soon enough we were taken to a parallel universe where factory workers made literal rubbish and didn’t even get paid. The idle cafe owner napped out the back of the shop while his barista poured cup after cup. In another universe the CEOs of the trash corporation had a skipping rope competition while the factory foreman whipped the workers. In both universes, workers were faced with the Sisyphean task of making consumer goods to feed the vacuous capitalist machine. Apart from breaching their statutory duties (is the Corporations Act intended to apply extra-terrestrially?), these company directors made us contemplate the monotony of modern work and the poor labour practices of our overlords.
Who are the Vortons and why are they so hungry? According to our beloved protagonist they are ‘terrible creatures that eat everything’ including your memories. The authors submit that the Vortons represent the postmodern doublethink that inhabits each of us, which Brennan J so aptly named the ‘tide of history’. The Vortons are consumers tearing through the universe from the centre out, just like a wave of gentrification or even colonialism devouring the northern suburbs, forcing everyone to drink their single origin pour-over and forget how we all got here. The Vortons are the opiate of postmodern Australia, erasing our sordid national history and absolving us of any responsibility because ‘we can’t remember’ what happened.
MindQuest is an enjoyable production, the central story is breathless, leaping from scenario to scenario every few minutes. Yet MindQuest’s strength is the way it marries this central storyline with increasingly absurd snapshots from around the multiverse. The scenes are bookended with music performed by a flesh-eating barbershop duo which actively comment on on-stage drama. In each snapshot, the scene is set, a caricature established, the Vortons appear, stage lights blind you and then… death. The greatest strength of MindQuest is the creativity and humour shown, such that we were left wanting the central scene to end to return to the next Vorton attack.
MindQuest is directed by James Macaronas and is playing at the Guild Theatre until September 30.
Tickets available here: link
Jacob and Duncan received complimentary tickets from MindQuest - Journey into Forever.