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100% Melbourne (Review)

Amanda Yap

Wed May 09 2012

100 per cent Melbourne

100% Melbourne is a fascinating interactive portrayal of Melbourne’s diverse population, reflecting the numerous demographics that co-exist in this city.

100% Melbourne was a truly unique ball of culture, insight and natural humour wrapped into one.

Beginning as number one, Anton Griffith reiterated the facts about the tedious casting process before introducing person number two in the chain reaction, and so on, until every one of the hundred people were onstage.

Each cast member talked a little bit about themselves before introducing the person they recommended for the project, which was a really good way of showing how each of them represented a little slice of Melbourne’s extremely diverse population.

It was unexpectedly pleasant to listen to each and every individual’s story: people of all ages and countries, in their native accents, relay how they came to Australia, while others shared how they met their partners standing next to them. People also brought various items that were significant to them to help tell their stories – family photographs, violins, books and Justin Bieber dolls all made an appearance – proving to be quite an amusing part of the introductions.

Certain people naturally stood out for being much more witty and humourous when they gave us an insight into their lives, while others stumbled a little over what they had to say. I was reminded that although this unusual show was partly rehearsed, a significantly large portion of it is “part reality”, and consists of the cast openly speaking their minds on the spot throughout the night.

Much of the show after this consisted primarily of the cast dividing themselves up accordingly, as each question, situation or statement is presented. It was fascinating to watch  a hundred people who represent Melbourne portraying a live demonstration on the spot as they walked all across the revolving stage to put themselves in the right categories.

A memorable part had to be when Melburnians’ day-to-day activities were presented as a mini-performance. As the hours of the day are called out (“Melbourne at 12 pm”) in sequence, the cast acted out what they would be typically doing, and this is where most of the laughs erupted (I found myself tittering incessantly as I watched the youth demographic partying it out till the wee hours of the morning while everyone else around them were in bed).

In these ways, audience members were constantly urged to mentally fit themselves into categories along with the cast, as we actively reflect on how or which percentage of Melbourne’s population we ourselves might belong to. There were also serious questions about political stances or past stories of persecution, and there was no cautious walking on eggshells when it came to these – it was extremely captivating to see how opinions can really differ candidly between Melburnians of various generations.

100% Melbourne really proved itself to be a “living, breathing portrait of Melbourne” as promised – and a charmingly enjoyable one, at that.