This is the second play with German comedy you have directed for Griffin (the first being The Pigeons). What attracts you to this genre of play?
I was instantly attracted to the “odd ball” and dry style of comedy as well as the surreal and absurd parts of these plays. Both plays look at our world through a slightly bizarre and skewed prism, which I believe has a great power and a very particular way of communicating with an audience. We’re not showing or presenting reality on stage – we’re looking at a heightened version of reality. Which pokes fun in the right way. Essentially I find this style of comedy and genre of comedy a rather useful tool to critique and study and laugh at ourselves. I guess if you were to have filmic reference point things like Charlie Kaufman, Spike Jones, Jean Pierre Jeunet, Peter Greenaway, Lars Von Trier. The other thing that attracted me was that both plays made me laugh out loud when I read them. This doesn’t happen often enough. Another reason I’m attracted to this particular genre of play is because any potential message or idea is conveyed through form, and not just content alone. I feel this doesn’t happen often enough in comedy.
What do you think are the main differences between German and Australian humour?
It’s impossible to put the two into clearly defined categories. What I can talk about is my own experience and influences in Australian comedy – the films that I grew up with, Muriel’s Wedding, Strictly Ballroom, Priscilla – which poke fun at Australia and our own culture and peculiarities. Australians are willing and able to laugh at themselves, essentially, to attempt to make a generalization we have a sort of self deprecating sense of humour. In The Pigeons and The Ugly One it’s more about people telling the truth or saying what they actually think and not realizing it’s odd or potentially offensive. It’s slightly more dry. I guess if you were to compare it to a popular culture reference think of along the lines of Black Adder, Black Books, Ren and Stimpy, Family Guy – it’s slightly more odd ball in its approach. And terribly cruel, which is the basis of all comedy; people not getting what they want. Satirical, Surreal, Ridiculous, Poignant, Farcical.
What is the ugliest thing you have ever seen?
A sped up filmed version of a face lift on youtube.
Why should people come and see The Ugly One?
Because it will make you laugh out loud and think and be disgusted and appalled and shocked and do all the right things theatre should do to an audience.
It’s a wonderfully black and irreverent satire that pokes fun and at our modern day condition and obsessions.
Book tickets for The Ugly One here.