I’ve tried numerous times to comprehend the vast and complicated history of Africa, constantly getting side-tracked by horrors that occurred, the wars, acts of violence and just the sheer amount of recorded history. So, I obviously jumped at the chance to hear the story of a woman that had grown up in the 80s, during Apartheid.
Candice D’Arcy is this woman. For those that don’t know what Apartheid is, I would suggest going in without any information. Using D’Arcy as an introduction to the subject is done so perfectly, you’ll want to educate yourself further. Foreign Body is more than a lecture about growing up in South Africa during Apartheid. Her experiences as a white person during one of the most horrific parts of history are essential to telling the story, and she is aware of the privilege she had and tells us how this environment instilled racist beliefs via osmosis.
Don’t worry friends! This isn’t a sombre hour, D’Arcy is charismatic and uses self-reflection, not only as a framing device but the perfect set-up for several jokes and more importantly, the lessons that D’Arcy learned and the ones we must learn. Throughout the entirety of Foreign Body, I felt like I was getting to know D’Arcy personally, her talent for storytelling and willingness to tell the embarrassing stories from her youth are all so crucial to shaping the person she is today.
Some of the most wonderful moments are when D’Arcy talks about her daughter, who was conceived while at university and is half-Indian. Her motherly protection made my heart sing, the way she adores her daughter and the passion of protecting her at all costs is undeniable. Every moment she mentions her daughter, her eyes light up, as she retells stories about the racism her daughter has experienced. You have no choice but to be confronted with the fact that racism is still very much a problem in Australia, despite what some might say.
Every second D’Arcy is on stage is entertaining. Either making me laugh uncontrollably or incredibly emotional, because of the racism her daughter has had to endure, not only by her family in South Africa, but now living in Australia. There are some harsh truths brought up during Foreign Body that may make some audience members uncomfortable, but the way D’Arcy speaks from the heart, using her intellect and talent, is truly captivating. Foreign Body has tonal shifts throughout, but with the direction from Trudi Boatwright, these tonal shifts aren’t jarring and are used as a padding after a particular confronting or emotional moment. How can you be sad after a drum majorette routine?
She can be singing, dancing, or doing a drum majorette routine, then giving a heartfelt monologue about the ways that Australia is similar to South Africa. And these similarities aren’t surprising but hearing them listed one after the other was upsetting. It was D’Arcy’s closing that I found the most moving, talking about what makes Australia ‘the lucky country’. As she mentions, she is an immigrant so the reasons that she loves and feels safe in Australia are things that we take for granted every day.
Foreign Body is more than a confronting look at racism in our daily lives, it leaves you questioning the ways that you can better yourself, not for you, but for the people around you that racism causes so much pain to.
Foreign Body is playing until October 16 at the Butterfly Club as part of the 2022 Melbourne Fringe Festival.
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Photography by Mark Gambino.