I’ve been at the Perth Fringe Festival a few nights in the last week, and I thought I would do a little review of a politically themed show I watched. Because politics isn’t always in the newspapers!
What: The Night Guardian
Who: Ellandar Productions
When: Friday 7th of February
Where: The Blue Room, PICA building, Perth Cultural Centre
The Night Guardian was a delightfully sharp piece of neo-political writing.
The only shame about N.G was the lack of a sequel — would have loved just one more hour, half an hour,one more ‘episode’ with our heroine. The set was the first thing to grab me, it wasn’t just a fictional city, it was a dystopian silhouette of our own fair city of Perth, distinguished by the angular BankWest tower and twin shafts of the BHP building.
As described on the flyer: “Your city has been plunged into a dark, broken, post-war world. Your Government employs the night guardian to protect you. Dr. Chaos is a renegade journalist who will not be silenced, who brings the Government’s corruption to the light.”
From an international relations perspective, I picked up on a few real world themes…
1. People Power — in IR, you can analyse some from an individual level, state level or systems (international) level. NG very much focuses on the Individual. Even more so, the struggle of Individuals against each other (Dr Chaos and NG) (NG and her Sensei), but ultimately it connects, in a very Orwellian, V for Vendetta-esque style, the individual versus the State. Can one person catalyse authoritative overthrow? That’s why I would have loved a bit more time with the NG, I would have loved to have seen how she did it. Or would she have do e anything at all?
Moreover, with her nemesis and accidental lover, Dr Chaos, I would have been fascinated by the potential for a joint dynamic from them. Chaos (below) is essentially a turbo-charged Peter Parker, with an upgraded hair-do, but still with that timeless intelligent (nerdy?) charm. With a ‘dark side’, nice to have an aesthetically pleasing ‘bad boy’ (!)
…….where was I ??!
2. Government Power — perceptions of authority. How NG sees her own role in the Justice System, how she eventually realises that she will become redundant and be replaced by more advanced ‘specimens’.
Only small fragments of information regarding authority structures were woven into the play itself. And to be honest, that made it less of an archetypal (standard) superhero/dystopic narrative.
Funnily enough, Batman and NG are both super hero stories in which the kind of higher political authority are rarely, if at all, acknowledged. We only ever hear of the Police, not necessarily of a Mayor, Prime Minister or President. Authority aren’t always leadership, I think it is because the Police are the most effective authority to function against crime; which is could be read as commentary on the redundancy or an incapability of politicians to deal with ‘grass roots’ issues, like they are detached from
When you think about it, the Government who employed NG, or any other superhero to solve a crime problem, it is indicative of a kind of authoritative incompetency — the Government have lost authoritative control, so they contract someone like a superhero to take care of Policing. Which shows big undercurrents of distrust in leadership and authority.
“Is the safety of a weapon determined by who controls it?”
– The Night Guardian
3. Identity was another big theme I picked up on. Not just because Chaos and NG have alter egos, but how their identities have been shaped by their social conditions, their environments. If I were to be super simplistic, NG would have been the ‘baddie’ for working for the ‘evil’ Government, and Chaos would have been the protagonist who could not be silenced. It was interesting, NG wasn’t necessarily the hero — she battled herself more than the system she worked for. She saw herself as a cog in the machine, and she develops a sense of self worth, she has a sense of naïveté and then realises her own power like Leeloo in Fifth element.
I was fascinated by Chaos, would have liked to know more about his story!
Names (non superhero ones) aren’t bandied about a whole heap in NG either, which keeps an element of mystery. In an age where you can, or where people want to know everything about you, this was a bit strange, but good.
Thinking about the above block quote, a line from the play, NG was considered a weapon. Something destructive and disposable. But people are not so simple. Can people be controlled? Do we allow ourselves?
Loved that line, a good one for reflection.
Although NG was very dystopic, my political brain would loved to have known more about the world in which NG was created. So much more to know.
Maybe a sequel, maybe not. Jolly good show Ellandar!
I love anything that helps you think differently. I love Fringe Festival!
Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing!