Friday 15 October 2021

GRASS - Film Review

 WHAT: Grass

WHEN: 10 - 17 October 2021

WHERE: YouTube


CAMERA: Jack Klien

Annabelle Mitchell

Grass is a Melbourne Digital Fringe show playing on demand via YouTube. It is written and performed by Annabelle Mitchell and takes a look at the power of ambition and drugs and what it means to be a functional addict.

Grass is an intriguing half hour which follows the journey of a woman who grew up feeling invisible. Through a chance encounter at a party she discovered a magic pill which seemed to give her drive and focus a pathway to a shining future.

As I said earlier, Grass is about being a functional addict. Through the power of this pill she wins dux of the school, gets the job of her dreams and advances all the way to the top. The big question behind Grass though is what (or who) has become invisible to her?

Grass is an epic poem. I found myself coming to think of it as a dark Dr Seuss - which is intriguing because I have always found Dr Seuss to be a bit dark himself...The cute and assonant rhymes, the peripatetic narrative, the irregular rhythmic structure, force an uncomfortable liminal space between the child and the adult, the real and the fantasy, the user and the observer.

Grass lends itself well to being filmed and Mitchell has a great rapport with the camera. My only disappointment is the lack of play she and Jack Klein exhibit with the frame. Most of the shots are close up face work but Mitchell is a VCA trained actor. She knows how to use her body to tell stories so some wide angles and physical experiments would have really allowed us to get deeper under the skin of the character.

I also would have liked to see her work with off-camera eyelines sometime to bring intimacy and power to those interior moments in the script. It would have allowed the audience to feel more like a theatrical voyeur rather than a constant sense of being told a story.

This is all just technical stuff though and in a world of eternal lockdown, Grass is a really exciting and disturbing exploration into a side of drug addiction we don't often get shown. In many ways it is quite horrifying as Mitchell describes a world where you work hard and earn your success but are never able to truly enjoy it for more than the briefest of moments. 

We talk about ambition and opportunity all the time, but what is it like to always be looking for the next hill to climb, the next battle to conquer. How can you enjoy your sunny meadow when the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence?

The scary thing Mitchell exposes about being a functional addict is that there is no getting off the roundabout. There is no rock bottom which may shine a light of awareness which leads to getting clean. I find myself asking does it matter that you aren't connected to the world if you don't know your aren't connected? 

I have no answer for that, but this portrait of ambition and addiction made me very sad - partly because I suspect I know a lot of people who do think this is okay. Do they know what they are missing? Do they care? Probably not. And let's be honest, society doesn't value those connections. All we are taught to want is more, more, more. Achieve more, earn more, be more famous... Maybe this is the only way to do it...?

Grass is playing on demand until 10pm on the 17th. I urge you to find a half hour to experience this tale. It will make you think and possibly bring you to examine some of the assumptions we live with.

3.5 Stars

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