We Are All
Not Suitable For Drinking @ Holden Street Theatres – The Arch
8:00pm, Sat 7 Mar 2015
Wow. This was, most certainly, a weird experience… some of which was the performance, and some of which was me.
To set the scene: I could remember nothing about why I’d selected We Are All – other than it had something to do with religion. There were but a handful of people in attendance. I was very tired.
And, for the first half of the performance, my dozy mind could not figure out whether I was witnessing cutting satire… or a real sermon.
It was not without precedence: I’d attended a hyper-positive self-help seminar in 2002, and a reading from the Book of Mark in 2009, under the guise of the Fringe, and several other religious deliveries disguised as theatre. The venue probably didn’t help, either: The Arch was once a church.
And when Thom Jordan took to the stage and started presenting something that looked and felt like an evangelical, lord-thanking, bible-thumping sermon, with nary a hint of irony or sarcasm… well, I was a little concerned.
Jordan delivers a sermon as Paul, who – after an unfortunate childhood battle with leukaemia – was given little chance of living past his eighth birthday. But, as the son of a preacher, he was well versed with the power of faith… and he survived to discover his abilities in performance and personae. After chasing his talents to the parts of Sydney that challenged his faith, he discovers his place in a mega-church, “The Way”; there, he is presented as a “miracle”, and Paul’s childhood misfortune is matched with his ability to connect with people, resulting in a character that is decidedly malevolent… yet utterly committed to preaching The Way.
The lines between writer/performer Thom Jordan and his character, Paul, are constantly blurred. Jordan’s own upbringing mirrors Paul’s to an extent – the son of a minister, he also lived through the eye-opening move from a tight-knit faith community to Sydney, chasing his art. And the manner in which Jordan (and director Julia Patey) presented Paul was utterly convincing: despite being listed as a “Comedy” in the Fringe Guide, there were no nods to the audience: we’re forced to dig for the satire ourselves.
And, despite the fact that We Are All had me completely fooled for a large amount of the show, time has given the memory of the performance a more appreciative glow. This is dark – really dark – satire, and I have to give Jordan and Patey credit for the feelings they conjured in me as I left the theatre: I felt like I’d just been conned, that The Way were real, that they’d just snuck me into one of their sermons. It took a while for the bitter taste to leave my mouth… but, like the best dark chocolate, what remained was utterly delicious.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 7, 2015