Belleville (26th September – 1st October)
Written and performed by Mark Salvestro
Produced by Second Breakfast
An intimate coming-of-age tale inspired by Australian history, Mark Salvestro’s Buried at Sea explores the playwright’s obsessive journey to uncover the story of his Gallipoli soldier ancestor, Great Great Uncle George. As he introduces George’s young love Ruby, their marriage, and his experiences fighting in Gallipoli, Salvestro simultaneously undertakes a journey of self-discovery. He tackles themes of loss, love and loneliness in his struggle to define his own identity.
The choice of venue has an unavoidable impact on the experience of the performance. Although drowned out by the keyboard accompaniment, background sounds just beyond the door bleed into Salvestro’s a capella moments. The resultant mergence of hip hop with Salvestro’s enthusiastic show tune vocals fortunately complements his contrastive exploration of George’s timeline and his own.
The function of this romanticised preoccupation with George’s story as a distraction from his own reality becomes clearer as the two entwine. Grounding and guiding the audience’s journey with narration as his present-day self, Salvestro visits events in his own timeline and inserts imagined events from George’s timeline. The lives of George and present-day Salvestro merge as he cuts between himself speaking to a girl in a nightclub and George inviting Ruby to dance.
Salvestro utilises the small space as best as he can. The same cannot be said, however, of his use of props. The papers emblazoned with thematic words are particularly distracting, seemingly serving no purpose other than to loudly and unnecessarily draw attention to Salvestro’s artistic intent.
Buried at Sea is an intimate journey of discovery delivered through a uniquely Australian lens. Salvestro’s show tune style and his dedication to unraveling George’s story combine to deliver an unexpectedly captivating performance.