Who’s The Best?
It may not be technically very good journalistic form to quote a group’s Facebook page, but when it reads “MELBOURNE --- We are in you! Lets party!” surely the conventions can go by the wayside. Sydney-based performance trio post have begun their nationwide tour of Who’s the Best and we got hold of Mish Grigor at the airport before her flight down. post is made up of Grigor, Natalie Rose and Zoe Coombs Marr, and they by their own description “make and perform original contemporary theatre works, among other things.” And having been working together for about 7 years, on shows called things like Gifted and Talented and Shamelessly Glitzy Work as well as being involved in a whole bunch of festivals as performers and creators, certain questions have arisen. This is where Who’s the Best comes in, as an experiment in working out who ‘wins’ at certain parts of life and at life overall.
Something along the lines of a quiz show, post have created categories “and sub-categories and, like, sub- sub- sub-categories,” Grigor says, comprising different kinds of attributes and abilities and experiences, and strict means of measuring them. “It’s by amount,” she explains, “so when it came to relationships, Zoe won because she’s been in the most relationships, but Nat was like, ‘Well, hey, I’ve been in the one relationship for 10 years, surely I win?!’ But no, it’s only amounts.” So yes, as you might guess, the process is sometimes a little tense.
“There was a life experience category, a sub-category that was about meeting celebrities, your encounters with them,” Grigor says, “and I won that and I was pretty happy about that.” But she also recounts some serious arguments, like when the group kept food diaries to determine who had the best diet as a fitness & health sub-category. “We were talking about it and there are disagreements and you end up seriously arguing. One person’s there saying ‘Yeah you do eat quite lightly, but you eat the same thing every day, so that’s not as healthy,’ and no-one will back down.’” And some of the comparisons do get very personal: earlier in the year while the show was in development Coombs-Marr described the trio spending a big chunk of a day sitting in front of a mirror in their underwear deciding which one of them had the best belly-button and the best earlobes and so on. There are winners for each question, for each category, and each day, and an overall winner. It’s got to be kind of hurtful when you come last.
But then, discomfort is something post foster with their work. A lot of performance is about endurance, and they manage to bring that across both physically and psychologically. One the one hand they’ve done a show that requires the capacity to do star jumps for ten minutes solid; on the other they put themselves and the audience through deliberate awkwardness in the form of various technical and personal issues. In Who’s The Best? music will seem mis-cued and curtains will close in the middle of the action in moves that are knowingly amateurish. This is a joke on themselves as well as the audience, though, a play on the self-seriousness that’s often perceived as part of the performance. “Zoe’s from the country and Nat and I are from the suburbs,” explains Grigor, “and so as well as the art wank that we’re all into, we wanted to be doing work that our families could come and see, and not feel like they were missing out on something, you know?”
This kind of work entails a need for the capacity to not take oneself too seriously, but at the same time to maintain a certain degree of sincerity for it to have any impact. The competition is real and the facts used to determine who is the best are true, and arrived at through a quantitative methodology that has encompassed pie charts, enneagram tests, debates and comparisons of eyebrows. It’s a testament to how well post work together that they’ve managed to develop something like this and take it on tour without hating one another, and even more of one that they make it fun (if sometimes tricky) to watch.
Who's The Best will take place at The Arts House Meat Market from Wednesday August 3 until Saturday August 6. For bookings and more details visit here.