I was eight when James Cameron’s Titanic swept across cinemas, yet somehow it was my younger sister, only three at the time, who became utterly obsessed with the film. When I took her to see Titanic The Exhibition in Sydney last year, she insisted that we re-enact the moment Rose descends the stairs to see Jack practising his handshake. Naturally, I brought her along with me for my first Anywhere Festival experience: Titanic: The Movie, The Play. Presented by Act/React, the show unashamedly capitalises on the film’s cult-like status – and it pays off.
Writer Natalie Bochenski propels the narrative along as Old Rose, supported by Daren King’s endearingly ernest Jack, Drew Lochrie’s Cal Hockley (comically referred to by the cast only as “Billy Zane”) and Elizabeth Best’s charmingly arch Molly Brown. The show’s interactive premise is simple: in each scene, “Old Rose” plucks a different audience member from the crowd to play her younger self.
Audience participation is always a gamble. It has the potential to sap the energy from a room and bring the momentum of a performance to a standstill, or it can have everyone on the edge of their seat, wondering if they’ll be the next one swept up into the action. Titanic: The Movie, The Play manages the latter. Bochenski cheekily turns the appearance and attire of each “Young Rose” into chuckle fodder as she invites them up, and the guest is deftly guided and prompted by the cast, all commendable improvisors who are able to springboard from each audience participants’ lines, however hesitant or giggly the delivery. They also manage to slip in a few pertinent post-election one-liners, and don’t shy away from the use of absurd props for visual gags. While the Titanic jokes flow thick and fast, they’re easy to parse for those unfamiliar with the film, and there are plenty of broader pop-culture references thrown into the mix as well.
This show doesn’t pretend to be more than it is; it’s a fun romp through a pop-culture classic with a delightfully energetic cast that manages to have Titanic lovers, haters and philistines all in stitches together.
Flora Wong saw Titanic: The Movie, The Play at the Queensland Maritime Museum. Titanic: The Movie, The Play plays 11-26 May.
Hero Image | Images by Anderson
Production images | Creative Futures Photography