The Black Lung Theatre and Whaling Firm have endeared themselves to us with bonkers performances of the likes of And They Called Him Mr Glamour. To save their brand of surreal self-analysis from going around in circles, in 2008 they stepped out of their familiar inner-Melbourne world — and into Timor Leste.
Working with East Timorese creatives Galaxy and Liurai Fo'er, they've emerged with Doku Rai (You, dead man, I don't believe you), the first international theatre production to be created in East Timor. (Specifically, extraordinarily, in an abandoned colonial hotel on a remote island off Dili. In the distance, Balibo was being filmed.)
Going off reviews of its first Darwin Festival and Melbourne performances in 2012, the show breaks the mould of how we think about cross-cultural theatre. It opens with a set from garage rock band Galaxy, stars of Timor Leste, for starters. The story then follows a man who is struck with a killing curse (doku) but continues to rise from the grave. On top of that is a layer of playfulness, meta, multimedia, and more pop musical interludes.
Australia hasn't always been kind to the tiny nation that is one of our closest neighbours, so that the kooks at Black Lung can go there and have a mind-meld with locals is an exciting thing. Directed by Thomas M Wright, the production will hit the festival circuit hard in Australia in 2013, then it's on to Europe.