Work Bitch is loaded, unapologetic, humorous and most of all truthful. A tale that lays bare many of those nuisances that are central to the creative industries here in Melbourne, though many of these observations, would for the average punter, be un-known commodities, and they still strike a definite chord. It makes light of the serious, and pokes fun at the narcissist tendencies that many artists must develop in order to progress their careers in small cities and scenes such as ours here in Melbourne.
It’s a simple re-telling of an autobiographical story, that follows an artist as he moves from Tasmania, escaping the confines of the local community, family and limited expectations and opportunities presented in this locale, to the mainland. Studying art, but then realizing that an arts degrees is only a ticket, albeit an expensive one- for work in one of our many local institutions, under the guise of women with brown hair, alongside employees who as a result working in and for such places, have or are forced to adopt thick skins.
There are some real dynamic pairings of words here in a tightly written and beautiful constructed script, there are moments where the most banal of situations or subjects become something dripping with innuendo or loaded with sarcasm. One highlight is hearing the Malthouse described as a theatre that is “ packed out with an investment banker rent-a-crowd”, the scripts burst with both dense and subtle visual imagery. Work Bitch, is delivered, in a word, perfectly, the dramatic effect caused by the deliberate moments, where Luke Devine took sips from his water bottle, allowed audience to catch up and along with the performer, take a collective breath, before once more, plunging head first. A lot is crammed into this fifty-minute performance, it’s quick paced, quick witted, and the canter is perfect for this style of performance.
The setting is simple, and also adds a further sense of dynamism to this performance, Work Bitch, being presented as part of Hot!Hot!Hot! Festival, the love child of local company MKA Theatre, in a now disused school in the back streets of Brunswick, meant audience are crammed into a small class room, there are no special effects, no projections, it’s a performance stripped back to a point where the only lighting being used is a flood light. In such a small space it’s impossible for a sense of an intimacy to not be afforded. Luke Devine, reads not from memory but from the pages he holds in his hands, further adding to the didactic setting.
This performance isn’t for everyone, and in fact some may even find the material offensive, but only those that can’t laugh at themselves, or truly understand the deeply flawed culture and lack of monetary value we have in Australia developed, surrounding the support of local artists.
To conclude, Work Bitch is a bold, brazen and truly fantastic performance, it comes highly recommended.