Part live art experience, part dinner party, this is Crunch Time; a work that wishes to explore the notions of a democratic process, though is only moderately successful in its explorations. The audience – come dinner guests – are seated at a long table tucked away in a room at Darebin Arts Centre. Over the five courses guests must choose which ingredients the chef will use in making each of the dishes served and, though some are a success, other results prove questionable at best. From the outset the true star of this performance is the technology employed; interactive projection mapping of this ilk is still a novelty.
So, in rapid fire we cross back and forth, via live projection feeds, to the kitchen where our chefs are busy cooking, while these also litter the whole experience with tit-bits of information, non of which remain with the audience post show. Between courses and in the meantime, polite conversation is thrown back and forth across the table, never really reaching anything close to a dramatic crescendo or climax; the experience takes close to two hours to unfold, but the novelty wears off within the first.
It is a real shame that this work gets bogged down in the quagmire of technological success, because there are some real concepts and notions which are both important and deserving of exploration, but what it boils down to is that this work fails to progress any further than our own sense of entitlement and first world realities. Living in a democratic society is a luxury and a privilege, we are not met by armed forces when go to the polls, nor is our system rigged. Perhaps the team could make the voting process include a choice of who can and cannot eat at the table, and in turn draw more attention to our privilege or to to issues of greater significance than just the ingredients being used in the preparation of these meals. There are places in the world, and in fact, communities here in Australia that deal with institutionalized neglect and famine, and we cannot simply switch off and ignore these harsh realities when engaging with this work. In fact, the process reeks of entitlement and the team needs to reconfigure and look deeper at the issues that they wish to explore; the bones for a great work and experience are here, but to surmise, this is nothing more than a squandered opportunity.