The Australia Project II: Australia Strikes Back ( Week 3) CONTINUING COCCUPATION written by Van Badham
The Australia Project II's third and final week bashes and hashes out America's allure and wonder, as well as its pockets of seedy and greedy. While some of the perspectives on the U.S. are presented in a funny and creative way, the critiques in these one-acts are nothing new and not always integral to the U.S. itself. ...........................................................................
Reviewed by Cindy Pierre
An estranged brother and son comes home from Iraq very different but still the same in Continuing Occupation by Van Badham. Soldier Josh's (Michael Poignand) homecoming is anything but mundane, with pothead sister Jenni (Erin Maya Darke) seething with an aversion towards him and his reality-deprived Mom (a wonderful Nancy Sirianni) fawning over his meals. Fresh from occupied Iraq, Josh returns with the same wartime frame of mind, callous, distant, and spewing unspeakable things. Yet, Josh wasn't a saint before he left. Apparently, he always liked it violent, having forced himself on his sister (hence the aversion) in their youth. We learn that the patriarch of the family has passed away, and Josh, in addition to bringing the grotesque to the house, has also arrived with a plan for the family's future.
Easily the most shocking of the plays as well as the most absurd, Continuing Occupation is harsh and unrelenting in its criticism of our foreign policies. Mac Rogers plays a variety of colorful characters, all symbolic figures of protest and commentary. They pop out of dining tables, peer through windows, and spook Jenni even though Mom behaves as if they're staples of the house. The direction by Jordana Williams is strong, particularly in the finely executed rumble scene between Jenni and Josh. The cardboard food is hilarious, and just what you would expect from this pseudo-farce. Although the themes are sandwiched together, Continuing Occupation is exciting in a sordid kind of way.
Week 3 of The Australia Project II: Australia Strikes Back is an immodest display of derision and praise, with a generous helping of off-the-wall and depravity. Although none of the productions are flawless, they all concede to the notion of the U.S. as a land of opportunity in their own distinct way, honorable or not. And making those opinions loud and clear is an accomplishment in and of itself.