Art review: Barefaced Storybattle 2013

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Barefaced Storybattles 2013

Reviewed by Kate Prendergast

Edited by Siobhan Hodge

Performance: Barefaced Storybattle 2013 - Heat 3
Artists: Various
Running time: 2 hours
Date of release: Last Tuesday of each month
Language: English

Short, incredible, and not-even tall stories at Northbridge's The Bird

In the cosy nook of Williams Street’s The Bird, a welter of the bizarre, the serendipitous, the traumatic and the downright hilarious were exhumed from personal histories, spun out and re-lived by a competing group of aprofessional raconteurs.

Going down in rocking fashion this balmy weekday night was the third and final heat of the monthly event known as ‘Barefaced Stories’— in which your (seemingly) average set of individuals gets up before an audience of unknowns, and relates all the ways in which they and circumstance have become uniquely acquainted.

From its usual dwelling-space of the pub, the cafe and the couch, the humble anecdote has subsequently been given an ingenious transposition to the stage. And a very lovely stage it is too; resembling a red-velveteen cave, or the droopy mouth of a stoned-goofy honey-bear. Here—thanks to the completely lovable event creators and hosts Andrea Gibbs and Kerry O’Sullivan, and powered by the courageous, witty and wry craft of the storytellers themselves— the anecdote as a performance style all in itself thrives in unpretentious glory.

Just as every story has its own swaggin’ charm, the six-minute long tales offered up by the nine contestants on Tuesday were gratifyingly diverse. Alongside the recounting of an heirloomic cake-knife theft at a tripping barnyard 21st, we heard of the unlikely friendship sprung from a failed ecstasy tablet investment scheme, as well as a son’s ill-judged bellow of ‘LET’S GET PISSED!’ during the nuptial-signing of his father and stepmother-to-be. Sheena Mooney gave a winning meditation on the ‘beauty of train travel’; a tale starring ‘Piggy’— a priggish bloat in suit and tie— and a very drunk Englishman who had only just buried his mother (as the latter hollered to Piggy’s back, clutching a broken nose). Affectingly, we were given insight into the fallout of trauma only just averted, and, in the final story of the night, were reminded of the totally awesome insouciance of love.

It’s a pretty amazing thing, really, to be entrusted with these creatively-rendered snatches of others’ lives. It’s a kind of sharing that throws the Facebook kind into a terrible pall. Even more incredible is finding how easy it is— the unconscious enfolding of these stories into one’s own look on life, meaning, and the ironic whimsy that capers between the two. On the whole, it’s an experience that can expunge any old, curmudgeonly belief that people and their doings are, you know, dull.

The final Barefaced Storybattle was thrashed out on the 29th of October— but no need for hand-wringing or depressive mooching over the fact it’s flown you by, because Barefaced continues in non-competitive mode on the last Tuesday of every month. Which means there is nothing (except maybe fear of friends’ reprisal for publicizing that incident involving the ozo, the thorn bush and the Crunchy Nut Cornflakes) to prevent you from getting up and telling your story. Regardless of whether you come as raconteur or confidante, with a measly event entry price of $10 you’d be a silly ornithophobe not to head down to Northbridge then for an 8pm start. Laughs and loveliness and damn good cider guaranteed.