As the audience filed into the theatre and took their seats, the buzz of anticipation in the seating bank was tangible. The devised shows produced by the second year Contemporary and Applied Theatre students at Griffith University are the highlight of the theatre scene in the first semester, and this performance lived up to those high expectations.
Through light and sound, the audience was taken on a journey throughout time and space, visiting Scotland in 1882, Charleville in 1902 and Cairns in the present day. The remarkable thing about each of these stories is that each was an entirely fleshed out show by itself. Scotland and Cairns truly felt like pressure cooker situations, with the characters in both feeling isolated and distant from society, due to the blizzard and hurricane respectively. Charleville seemed to be the focus of the show, the primary time frame, as it housed the Steiger-Vortex guns and multiple plots, all weaving together while the 7 year drought refused to give in.
It could be argued that the most pivotal character in the show was in fact Mr Rags, the Boss Weather Prophet himself, who convinced the town of Charleville to erect the guns to fire into the heavens. This character is never actually seen or portrayed by an actor, but spoken of by almost every character in the Scotland and Charleville time frames. His words are relayed to us through Inigo, his assistant, and Louise, his wife.
Louise lives in Scotland with her husband, Mr Rags but due to his constant absence up the mountain, grows lonely and scared. The doctor Henry arrives to check on her child, but it is revealed that it is his, and that the two have engaged in an affair as least once. The scenes involving Henry and Louise are some of the most powerful and well-rehearsed sections of the show. The actors have perfectly embodied their characters and the fear they share of being caught slowly dissipates as Henry grows bolder in his advances while Louise tries to remain true, right up to her death.
When the hooded figures emerged from all corners of the room, there was a kind of collective gasp. There is now a connotation to satanic cult rituals, which is reinforced by the mantras they recite and the torture they inflict upon the “village idiot”. But rather than worshipping Satan, this cult prays to God for the rains to come, twisting bible passages and blaming the drought on their town having become “inbred”. The scenes involving the cult, who are later revealed to be the women of the town’s “Rural Ladies’ Committee”, who have lost hope in the men from finding a solution, are the most engaging and interesting. The head of the committee fully embodied the role of pleasant hostess who has a slice of pure evil inside, much like her lemon cake.
This piece of theatre manages to transport the viewers and truly encompasses the primal feelings of fear and survival in severe weather situations, while it was not entirely clear of the importance of Cairns, other than as a modern take on an otherwise period piece, I would not want it removed from the show. The characters retained the interest of the audience, and the actors themselves committed fantastically to their roles. The link at the end with the severed hand and the boy seeming to be in 2015 now was disconnected from how Iris appeared to travel in a dream state. But nonetheless, the message was conveyed through this medium.
All in all, this show is a masterpiece of devised theatre, with evident research and developed storylines and characters. With a flawless tech, and simple set, it felt genuine and not at all oversaturated. If the reader should want to experience a true Contemporary, devised show, then they should look no further than Boss Weather Prophet.
Boss Weather Prophet runs for a limited season and closes on May 30th. Get your tickets at https://app.secure.griffith.edu.au/griffithpay/Boss-Weather-Prophet.html