Review: The Lost Living

The Lost Living

Directed by Cobie Orger

As part of the Next Wave Festival

26-30th May Donkey Wheel House 


A drawn-out whining sound surrounds the audience as we descend into the darkness and are silently and impassively instructed to sit. Presented in the basement of Donkey Wheel House, The Lost Living directed by Cobie Orger for the Next Wave Festival is an engulfing, disorientating and voyeuristic experience, exploring the three interlinking tales of Apollo, Artemis and Orion.


We sit, with the final murmurings of the audience diminishing as the three ushers’ unfaltering eyes survey us. We wait and listen to the silence, eventually being wordlessly instructed to follow an usher to separate rooms where each character is exiled. Alexandra Macdonald, Martin Hansen and Ben Hancock all perform their characters with a strong sense of urgency, like every moment is vital for their survival. The obsessive-compulsive nature of Hancock’s Apollo is enhanced by the excessive unused cords and globes in his little window corner. Hancock’s eyes don’t see us, but feel like his focus is stabbing our concentration. Orion grapples with his inner conflict as the tension in Hansen’s body ebbs and flows. The lights behind Hansen are blinding and mirrors the physical discomfort he portrays. As we proceed to Artemis’ cave of nets, cords and television monitors, our peripheral vision is flooded with bodies - moving on the screens, in the audience, and Macdonald. The detail and delicacy of Macdonald’s Artemis is amplified by her proximity and it is easy for one to feel choked-up watching her struggle through her suffering. The sounds of the other unseen performers scraping and moaning in the distance bleeds into ones consciousness and creates an uneasy edge. 


Down in the underground, Andy Hutson’s design transformed the basement into a cold, stark, uncomfortable world, amplified by Simon Charles’ sound design (which crept into my bones and stayed there long after the performance was over). The usher flicks on her torch and moves us along to the next room, almost as if she feels she’s indulged us enough and now it’s time to see the next attraction. This cold ‘shepherding’ of the audience feels like the supervised viewing experienced on a zoo tour and reminds us that we’re in a performance. 


Finally we’re lead up the stairs to the bright lights of the empty foyer and left there, feeling somewhat lost and abandoned, with no program notes to take away as a souvenir to remind us what actually happened. Orger has succeeded in creating an experience that immerses the audience into the underground world of these tormented characters.


By Lucy Farmer

Lucy Farmer

Lucy Farmer is an emerging visual and performance artist based in Melbourne. She has a Master of Fine Art (Painting) from RMIT University and a Bachelor of Art: Performance Studies (Hons) from Victoria University. Her work spans performance, painting, drawing, installation, video and music.