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Jessica Lawson's picture
Jessica Lawson Joined: 5th May 2011
Last seen: 26th October 2013

The Suitcase Royale

So what is all of this buzz about some thing called Harvest? No, it's not an eery neo-Christian gathering. Harvest Festival (known as Harvest Presents: The Gathering in Melbourne) is sure to be a kicker. The event - which is touring the east coast this November - has already received immense excitement from music enthusiasts with a lineup like no other. Paying homage to both the intelligent and conscious music lover with acts like Portishead, The Flaming Lips and Bright Eyes, the festival has just announced one of the year's premiere arts lineups to boot. Included in what is sure to be a flipping brilliant festival is one of the countries most uniquely hilarious acts, The Suitcase Royale.


The group, who is composed of the very talented Joseph O'Farrell, Miles O'Neil and Glen Walton, have revelled in success both on their own turf and across America and parts of the UK and Europe. They will be bringing their sui generis make of comedic, Mighty Boosh-esque theatre to the stage once more at Harvest Presents: The Gathering. After their first show in 2004 the theatre company have produced six major shows including The Space Show, The Ballad of Backbone Joe and the most recent Zombatland.

 

The group classify their genre as 'junkyard theatre' after their humble beginnings of recycling street trash for props, mix music, theatre and reams of elements together to bring you what can only be described as pure genius. Expect folky, dirty blues, expect lo-fi production, hand-made and up-cycled props, puppetry, drama, comedy and everything in between. Proudly self-produced, Joseph says that part of this is that things generally seem to go "badly wrong' when things like sets and lighting are concerned. "In our latest show Zombatland we had this awesome huge cardboard caravan as our main prop. About five minutes into the show the whole thing fell apart. All of a sudden Glen whips a drill out of nowhere and fixes it. I think we got one our best audience reviews at that show. An elderly woman described it as watching her three grandchildren put on a show in a cardboard box."

 

From meeting at university in Melbourne the boys admit that music was the initial passion. However, the act grew and grew to what it is today. Travelling across the country and across the world along the festival circuit, Joseph confesses that part of the success story is luck. Journeying across North America and Canada as part of the Canadian fringe circuit and getting paid for it equals a very Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas -esque saga.

 

"We listened to a lot of Neil Young and we almost died in Mexico. We had a week off (from the festival) and wanted to do something fun so we flipped a coin. Next thing I know I'm waking up in the back of the car and we are in the Mexican desert. We went and stayed with this friend in an ex army base. We ended up taking a six-pack out into the dessert and got completely bogged. We realised we had no idea where we were."

 

The next part of the story sees the trio of boy-men stranded in the outback of Mexico as a flash flood engulfs their impeded beast.

 

What can you expect at Harvest? A little bit of everything. "We try and play games with the audience. Our favorite is called get in the fucking bag."

 

Imagine an audience divided in half with one challenge. To climb inside a candy striped plastic travel bag.

 

"Is it actually just a kidnapping ploy? Yes. Am I proud of that? No. Is it essential? You tell me," Jests Joseph. The boys are undoubtedly thrilled to be a part of the inaugural Harvest Festival.

 

Delving deep into the psyches of the trio, I ask Joseph to spill the beans on Glen and Miles. Glen Walton is what can only be claimed as allegedly addicted to Zumba - the Latin-American dancing craze. Miles O'Neil once got into a fight with David Stratton from Margaret and David's At The Movies after affectionately referring to him as 'Stratto' at a movie night in Sydney. Unfortunately the two men still are not on very good terms.

 

And Joseph himself reveals that he once played in a cover band with Bronson from around the twist. "I had absolutely no greater pleasure as an 18 year old drummer than playing with him".

 

Alongside The Suitcase Royale you can catch acts like the saucy gender-twisted sailor cabaret act Mojo Juju, the quirky spectacled Bedroom Philosopher, super diva Our Lady J and a whole other plethora of talent from comedy to visual arts and installations and of course some incredible music that spans its popularity from up to six decades. With '60s funk stars The Family Stone to newer acts like Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah, keep an eye on the site for the playing schedule to be announced.

 

When I ask Joseph if he would like to add anything to our interview he only mentions, "Maybe just if you can make us sound really, really cool..."

Harvest Presents: The Gathering is on at Werribee Park on Saturday November 12.