DUCKY'S THEATRE OF THE INTERNET: Theatre Review
WHEN: 4 - 8 October 2023
WHERE: Long Play
WRITTEN & PERFORMED BY: India Alessandra
DIRECTED BY: Bronya Doyle
|India Allesandra - photo by Syd Farey|
What a fascinating, confusing and contradictory place the world has become with the arrival and embracing of the internet. There is so much screaming about privacy in a world where such a thing is perhaps now one of the luxuries of the rich, but to be seen amongst all the hubbub takes Herculean effort and a personal surrender akin to (and sometimes aligned with) sex working. It is into this fray that India Alessandra takes us with her Melbourne Fringe show Ducky's Theatre of the Internet, playing at Long Play.
Ducky (India Alessandro) has a OnlyFans page and, after an absence of a year, is back with her first 24 hour live stream. With her phone and ring light on a selfie stand in one corner of her bedroom, in a leotard straight out of a Jane Fonda video, and with the most ridiculous platform heels on the planet, Ducky settles in to entertain her fans and answer all their questions for 24 hours - all for the price of a donation and a click on her link and bio.
It is not explicitly stated in the show which makes it a bit confusing until you figure it out, but Ducky is a music artist. I say it is confusing because the night involves a lot of overly sexualised dancing and OnlyFans is known to be something of a sex shop.
This is not accidental on the part of Alessandra. Alessandra is deliberately interrogating the space women on the internet inhabit in our sex sells pop culture. At one point, somewhere around the 15th hour, Ducky speaks to her hyper-sexualised photos and how they need to be that way to cut through miasma of wannabe influencers. Ducky's Theatre of the Internet constantly references the push-pull of that space, whilst also subtly crying out about a world where if you aren't an influencer then are you anything at all?
As the hours go by, Ducky's Theatre of the Internet exposes just what a marathon those durational streams are and just how much work and energy goes into doing them. Respect to those women out there doing it for whatever reason!
Alessandra is a self-confessed devotee of Lana Del Rey and a lot of Ducky's story arc riffs off Del Rey's controversies of 2020 although she is not named specifically. Just like Del Rey, Ducky has made inappropriate commentary which caused her to be cancelled, which explains the year long absence. Ducky is back though and not apologising for anything (just like Del Rey). At one point she even quotes part of the famous tweet which got Del Rey in trouble.
Perhaps the weakness of this show lies in Alessandra's unwillingness to be direct and present a clear point of view. Whilst she writhes around the floor and responds to the lovers and haters and urges them to click on link and bio, it is a bit unclear what position (if any) she takes on OnlyFans and the culture it inhabits and promotes, or Del Rey. As such, the ending is a bit disappointing and a big opportunity has been missed by Alessandra and Bronya Doyle (director) to let us into who Ducky is when the selfie light turns off. The on-line persona only makes sense if we have a sense of who the off-line person is IMO. By that I don't mean we need any more time with Ducky offline. I mean we need that moment to have more intention.
Alessandra is quite brilliant as Ducky and the choreography is really on point. The videography does just enough without taking over the show and the dramatic structure is excellent. You can't take your eyes off Ducky, even when she accidently falls asleep. The dramaturgy (Ivana Brehas) is excellent.
One thing Ducky's Theatre of the Internet does really well is remind us that everything we see on-line is performance. Do not look to the digital landscape for reality. Everything is a show and all of us engaging online are putting on a costume and playing a role. When we are online we are 'on'. This is not real. This is not us. There may be moments, but they are quickly covered and hidden. That is how you survive and throw off the inevitable trolls - for as long as you can.