Who's the Best?
It is a question that has reverberated through sibling rivalries and schoolyard brawls for eons. In recent years, it has become the central conundrum of any reality show, on any television screen, the world over. But according to performance collective post (a group who stridently refuse capitalisation), it is one that perplexes stage-dwellers as much as sparring sisters or Survivor’s castaways. “We’ve been working together for a long time,” Zoe Coombs Marr tells us with an awkward grin, “so it’s only natural that the question would come up: who’s the best?”
To solve this age-old enigma once and for all, they’ve developed a ‘foolproof’ ratings system collated from the interwebs: personality quizzes, enneagram tests and the like (though not online IQ tests – they didn’t want to pay for the results, says Coombs Marr). They’ve narrowed down what makes a prodigious person to ten categories, such as looks, health and fitness, life experience, talents and luck. But to ensure methodological rigour, these categories can be broken down into sub-categories. Which can then be broken down into sub-sub-categories. For example, looks can be broken down into the sub-category head, which can be broken down into the sub-sub-categories of face, hair, etc.
Sound absurd? This is only the beginning. This Sydney-based performance trio is comprised of Coombs Marr, Mish Gregor and Natalie Rose. Except Natalie has just had a baby, as they inform us, so Eden Falk will be donning a wig and filling in. In the context of the show’s, well, illogical logic, this substitution makes total sense.
Humour ranges from the farcical to the slapstick to the surreal, yet it is always in equal measures charming and deliberately cringeworthy. Rock Eisteddfod-style dance routines punctuate the piece, with cues (bangin’ beats, flashing lights and smoke machines) that often interrupt the dialogue. The stage is decorated with an array of nonsensical tape patterns marking out where to stand. Unsurprisingly, nobody ever quite hits their target – they must sidestep to reach the spotlight, repeatedly getting whacked in the face by a pesky purple curtain that seems to have a mind of its own. Moreover, their conversations often reach bizarre, almost-surrealist heights. How does one make a solid gold baby’s foot? Does Bono deserve to die for what he wears? Is it possible to nail a hammer on the head without a second hammer?
Beneath the funnies, there is a comment here on the perfectionism that plagues the present moment. In one speech delivered by all three performers in unison, what begins with platitudes ripped from the parlance of reality TV – “We never forget that the cameras are rolling… We believe if it’s not going to be a success, it’s not fucking worth doing” – soon delves into the anxiety engendered by this constant competitiveness – “We are terrified… At least once a day we notice that our teeth are clenched… We can be whoever you want us to be”. But not for long. Just when things seem to be getting serious, the lights change and we’re back to the brutal contest for post’s performer par excellence.
And besides, a little bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone. Right?