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the term of their unnatural lives

tony reck moves into adam broinowski’s hotel obsino


Hotel Obsino Hotel Obsino
I MUST CONFESS TO HAVING SPENT A SOLITARY NIGHT IN THE SIR CHARLES HOTHAM HOTEL, SPENCER STREET MELBOURNE. AS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND ADAM BROINOWSKI’S PLAY HOTEL OBSINO, I ALMOST FEEL AT HOME AMONG THE STICK BOOKS AND SYRINGES LURKING WITHIN THE FLOTSAM ON LA MAMA’S FLOOR. IN A BOOTH BENEATH THE STAIRCASE SITS A SO DESCRIBED CURRY-MUNCHING CARETAKER. CORNERED BY BOUTS OF CROSSWORD CONTRIVED WISDOM, BUDDHIST RHETORIC, OUTBREAKS OF RESIDENTIAL MADNESS AND INCOMING INDUCTEES, HE IS BOTH MANAGER AND MADMAN. ENTER NOAH, ON THE RUN FROM EVERYONE, INCLUDING HIMSELF.

Searching for solace in this ark of decay, Noah is the ballast Hotel Obsino requires. Well, somebody’s gotta ‘keep it real’ amidst death, drugs, life sentences in rooms that resemble Sadean dungeons, madness, despair and the Devil’s delight circulating within a purgatorial twilight...In doing so, Noah discovers that he also is an accomplice of the criminally insane.

A parade of dying souls descends the staircase, beginning with a young woman wearing a negligee and carrying a bucket. Miss Jones squats and piddles, then pats her pubis with a sheet of toilet paper. Singing “It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain”, she exits stage left. Obsino is a man’s world, and I cannot help but wonder what the women in the audience are feeling... Excluded perhaps, like the Aboriginal, Noodles, who after unleashing a moment of squawking madness, is only ever seen wandering alone through corridors, sitting invisible, listening to whitefella attempts at camaraderie, or crossing off the days in chalk on a wall in what might be his room, but could also be a memory of incarceration at Grafton Prison. Bigotry never takes a holiday, and nor do the relentless days and nights filtering through cracks in walls from an outside world that is only ever referred to in paranoid terms. A tourist with a typewriter, Noah will eventually jump this Ship of Fools. As for the other residents, they’re down here for the the term of their natural lives.

Dave has a swastika tattooed on his neck and may have been baton raped while doing three with a five. Fabio dreams of having sex while his cock is wrapped in a nail studded towel. Gold is a jive talkin’ junkie hybrid of the Wogboy and the Universal Soldier. Felix and Doug are curious creatures. The former is a sentimental European who recreates his mother in his room; the latter, a religious nut primed with a fear of the Devil that is explosive when unleashed upon Noah. As confidante, Noah commiserates, and is complicit in the anti-life of each fruitloop. But all are united by survival on the edge of a metropolis that itself may be a manifestation of insanity. Common to all these characters is a fear of religious damnation. In this sense, Hotel Obsino is an examination of people trapped in purgatory. Driven mad by an inability to relinquish a belief in the Divine, each slowly self-immolates.

Having myself spent seven years living in a notorious St. Kilda dive, I can vouch for the authenticity of Hotel Obsino’s characters.


Hotel Obsino, writer, director Adam Broinowski, performers Le Roy Parsons, Eric Mitsak, Tahir Cambis, Tom Davies, Brendan Bacon, Melanie Douglas, Craig Hedger, Dylan Lloyd, Polish Larsen, Greg Ulfan; La Mama, Melbourne, Sept 12-30

RealTime issue #82 Dec-Jan 2007 pg. 35

© Tony Reck; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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