Arachnid | Sotto Theatre Co

A limber baby wanders into the orbit of rage and cannot help but get caught up in the existential rhythm of the music. From here she will trace the projection of her adolescence and learn to barter in fear and sex. Sotto’s new monologue piece takes a sideways glance at Australiana, gender, and childhood.

Written as a semi-autobiographical monologue, Arachnid starts with performer Ella Prince in her tighty-whiteys, dancing out of sight of her addict father, before she sneaks a peak at his sleeping form and falls into his heavy chest. Over the course of the production, Prince narrates her character growing up: learning to shoot, smoking weed, experiencing a sexual awakening, stealing, and making friends with societal oddities. She follows a familiar trajectory for bored teens in 90s Australia but there exists a sinister undercurrent of sexual exploitation and queerphobia as made manifest in the Nighthawk, a mysterious woman who appears to be following Prince.

The lyrical script ricochets between naivety and paranoia as the young girl gains and loses trust in those around her, shaking her own confidence of judgement. Prince repeatedly narrates a visceral corporeality, excavating and reexamining presumed notions of bodies and autonomy. Her writing is unusual, unsettling and supported by her angular and gauche physicality. Echoing the poetic textured prose of Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (which Prince also performed last year) or Peach by Emma Glass, this monologue puts an Australian lilt onto the vulnerability of internal, unstoppable girlhood. The soundscape of Prince’s becoming is uniquely embodied along the rhythm of her own narrative voice and her disparaging giggles.

Director Sarah Hadley injects the production with visual nostalgia through multimedia projections, a mannequin in a bald-cap, and a mic to reverberate Prince’s meditative moments. Sizzling sausages at Bunnings, the opening credits of Blue Heelers, and other ticks of everyday existence punctuate Prince’s abstraction and dislocation. These incorporations serve as comical and contextualising commentary but often the transitions away from Prince’s presence were rough and distanced the technological from the organic of her story.

Arachnid is a rolling and rumbling inarticulation of contemporary self-hood captured in one girl’s perseverance. In a world of cruelty and unbearable fleshiness, Prince captivatingly cultivates a peculiar perspective on being.

Arachnid was performed at the Bondi Pavilion from July 16th – 17th as part of Bondi Feast

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