Lawson’s actors utilize an Absurdist acting style through the foul and raw language, the sporadic singing and dancing and even through their use of props. The overt sexual references were aimed at shocking the audience and along with the over-dramatisation of events and the confrontation between characters and their issues, the elements of Absurdism are strongly reinforced. Another pivotal point within the production that amplifies Absurdist techniques is the scene in which Claire sits down alone with her son, Luke, an obsessive-compulsive drunk and exposes to his that he was unwanted and never loved by either of his parents. The didactic manner in which this scene is performed communicates a sense of alienation, again reinforcing the Absurdist elements within the production, aimed at creating subjective audiences. The surprising yet unsettling ending in which Claire burns her family to death expresses absurdist qualities in its abruptness and pure shock, presenting the harsh, materialistic society in which we live today.
Another aspect of Urban Dingoes that consists of Absurdist elements is the unique characterization of Claire and the children, Margaret-Mary, Anne, and Luke. Their selfish and money-hungry attitudes and eagerness to dispose of their mother clearly represents typical absurdist theory. We see three children desperate to be loved; denied that fundamental human need by their mother and worried by the excessive fondness of their now long dead father, we can understand the broken lives that characterize their adult years. Claire’s often-indecipherable language and meaningless obscure remarks are also typical absurdist techniques along with her constant immoral laughing, especially during exposure of shocking occurrences.
Amongst the play’s Absurdist backdrop, Surrealist techniques are employed, complimenting both the absurdist script and characterization of Urban Dingoes. Surrealism was a means of reuniting conscious and unconscious realms of experience so completely, that the world of dream and fantasy would be joined to the everyday rational world in an absolute reality, a ‘surreality’. A predominant Surrealist scene was the garage sale pitch Claire made. Empowering the entire performance, adding profundity and distancing the audience in an effort to transpose the intentions of the director and playwright.
The grotesque and violent encounters of Claire with her children and the play’s continuous reference to memories of both Claire and the children are typical characteristics of a surrealist production. At a deeper level, it involves as exorcism, not of the dead but of the living; an amends of memory and attachment. The Feminist influence in Urban Dingoes is expressed predominately through the character of Claire, and to an extent Anne.
These contrasting characterizations embody the feminist influence in the play from the two foremost social perceptions. Feminism is concerned with the advocacy of the rights of women on the basis of both similarity and difference. Pioneer feminists influenced a subjective new form of feminist theatre, which was dedicated to reconstructing the history of women and exploring the identities of women and fighting against the oppression evident in all forms of life. Contemporary feminist performance no provides the female performer with a clear voice and platform from which to expose and make visible women’s issues and art.
The characterization of Claire addresses the oppression of women in the role of mother and he common loss of identity that they suffer. Additionally, the loss of voice is addressed through the memories of Claire being sexually abused and her inability to be an individual within her own family. In comparison, Anne represents the feminist struggle of sexual provocation. Her own brother brands her a “slut” which is a representation of the social perception of sexually active women within society.
Through these feminist characterizations, the desire for liberation is explored. Momentarily, the play addresses topics such as abortion and menstruation. This is purposely done in order to explain Claire’s struggle. Characteristic of Feminism, Urban Dingoes non-linear narrative structure symbolises the disjointed life women live, which disentangles without apparent lines of progress. The story through Claire’s eyes is a clutter of disjointed memories, flashbacks, and sequential order, in the eyes of a distressed woman.
Through analysis of 20th century dramatic forms within the production is become clear that both Norman Price and Ian Lawson consider such theatrical forms including symbolism, absurdism, surrealism, and feminism influential. This versatile influence has created both an original and moving production in which the audience is presented with an emotive story and complex characters. Through such a utilization of theatrical form as in Urban Dingoes theatre can cultivate and develop new styles and goals of social improvement. Urban Dingoes successfully embodies the essence of 20th century theatre practice and appreciation.
Gattenhof, S. 2004. La Boite Theatre Company – Performance Cues for Urban Dingoes. http://www.laboite.com.au/08_education/Urban%20.pdf. (accessed 2nd October 2004).