In first year university, I sniggered and sneered at the idea that the intelligensia of the poetry covern could award Ern Malley any prizes or awards. As a 17 year old, I was all about exposing pretension and making sure that art wasn’t just the past time of the wealthy and educated. (I guess not much has changed).

Now, what appeals about the idea of a Hoax is the assumptions that it plays on – for a hoax to work – the faux or the pseudo has to know what it is to be camouflaged as. The hoax is a commentary. It is an expose on the assumed and the accepted.

Rick Viede’s play – winner of the Griffin Award – carries this cultural knowledge and weight deep within it. Especially in the field of playwriting awards – where in 2010 the NSW Premier announced that judging a play was very problematic – and again in 2011 The Richard Burton prize was not awarded. Play assessement and new writing awards are problematic at the best of times… how is it that art can be assessed? What is a flaw maybe an innovation? A play that reads well, may not make a great performance? There are questions which are deliciously difficult and perfect for verbal rubiks cubing with the great minds of the field.

I think it’s worth reading:

Who’s right? Where does the truth lie? Well that’s up to you and Viede knows it.

Lee Lewis’ production handled the matter of the play firmly – and that is not easy to do. It is rare that we have flicked up in our faces the simpering cowardice of our shaudenfraude. Viede’s triumph in this play is showing us the flinch-worthy horror of celebrity – that nasty arrogance that comes with fawning attention. The machinery of fame. The vulture-like quality of humans picking over the personal and the private lives of others. The crass adoption and acceptance of persona as “person” or the mistake of misreading “caricature” for “character.” In Viede’s eyes we are ugly predators who delight in the grotesque – we love hating something – we love being repulsed by it – and we love to burn out and destroy that which we admire. We use-up and dispose of that which fascinates us – that which reveals a dark or hidden or sordid idea.

But what we are really getting off on, is our imagination.

I’m not saying that the play is completely “perfect” (is there such a thing?) But I don’t think it has to be, to give this idea weight. In fact in a way any “slumps” or “flaws” are fine by me – because in winning the Griffin Award – it has proved a point unto itself – in a way. Fool-proof. Carrying the yoke of an award makes us skeptical – and that says more about us, than it does about the work.

I for one enjoyed A Hoax. I enjoyed the glowing performances by Glenn Hazeldine and Shari Sebbens – I delighted in the gear changes. I winced with horror at the seeming disposability of everything – which pulls on me especially given the emphemeral/disposable nature of theatre (and how we treat our writers).