Part 1: bloody funny. Part 2: bloody tragic.

If reviews were condensed into 8 words and a scattering of semi colons (and written by someone else) that would sum up B-sharp’s A Distressing Scenario.

A double bill of two of Australia’s most fascinating performance makers – Post (a triumvirate of three women – recently finalist for the Philip Parson’s Award) and Version 1.0 (who recently presented The Bougainville Photoplay Project in the upstairs theatre.

Unlike many of the BSharp shows over the years, this double bill comprises of two new devised productions. Such work has previously been the realm and speciality of places such as Carriageworks and Performance Space, PACT and festivals such as Next Wave… and seen as alternative theatre in a landscape of predominantly text based theatre.

As a style, or genre, devised work is very challenging and demanding – of the devisors and of the audience. Much of the making of this style of work is based on trust, risk, daring, conversation, experiment, and a series of accidents, “what ifs” and the willingness to say something. There is no room to be coy, tardy or elusive – it just wont work. It is a slippery shifting style – that I must admit I am continually evolving my opinion and ideas about… When it works it is profound, surprising, terrifying and stimulating – when it doesn’t work it can be self-indulgent, tedious navel gazing posturing… but you don’t need to think about that. A Distressing Scenario works.

It’s a huge risk – for Bsharp, for audiences…no script. No writer. It’s programming on faith… just as much as creating the work involves faith… and just as much as an audience taking a punt.

Best explained by the first of the two in the double bill – created by Post (otherwise known as Zoe Coombs Marr, Mish Grigor and Natalie Rose) who in about 4 minutes ask the audience to imagine the circumstances in which they must make a performance work based around the global financial crisis in 4 weeks and then perform it for 4 weeks. Doubt, accident, pregnancy, cocaine, drunkenness, fear, sliding timetables, misadventures with carpenters and dashed expectations culminates in 40 minutes of vigorous rumination, puns and exploration of a brief history of time in relation to the events leading up to the Global Financial Crisis. Brilliantly notated on a surprising chalk board – the key figures seem to translate as bald men (with and without a hat) who are a part of the GFC – the monopoly man, the Pringles man, Sam from Guess Who, Colonel Sanders.. and the market crash is explained pictorially. (Thank goodness! This stuff can be tricky to ingest!). Punctuated by four dance sequences of sparklers, champagne and vigorous dancing – the chapters of this work are filled with humour, leaps of logic, word play, naivety and aggressive thinking. Bending between fact and fiction the remarkable thing about this show is Post’s ability to present a performance in the same inevitable and yet surprising excessive way which perfectly parallels the arc of the GFC itself. It’s a hoot and especially if you know a little about the events surrounding the GFC and how/why it happened. It’s bloody funny.

After interval – the space is transformed – Rostra, Screens, we have transmogrified from low to high-tech. Faces of leaders – Obama, Rudd and Bush – sound bites from all three as their address to the nation. Created by Jane Phegan and Kym Vercoe this is a beautiful, shocking and sobering look at the effect of financial planning, living in modern society, credit crunching and looking into the financial future. With two performers so skilled in physical performance – verging on dance – supported by director David Williams, video artist Sean Bacon, Sound Artist Paul Prestipino, Lighting Designer Frank Mainoo – this is a highly sophisticated piece of performance. A knot in my stomach and a few sharp breaths in as I watch them race and teeter on the stage. Strong in visual poetry, simple clear story, and with a precise physical articulation – this is a devastating portrait of artists as a young women in a financial age. As I watch their personal accounts of their accounts – it all feels a little too real. And I was scared… scared of how we as a society live in this state of financial and material fragility. It’s bloody tragic.

Both are unique pieces, created by, with and about pressure. Both completely different results. Both important parts of the same discussion – how did we get here and what are we doing now we are here. What a way to farewell 2010, and the B-sharp season/s with a bang and not a whimper. It is no wonder the downstairs theatre was the home of so much innovative independent work – and programming such as this double Bill (or Wilhelmina – as I like to think as both are devised by women) is a brave and exciting choice and one which I hope continues at Belvoir.