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Guest review 4: Anja Murray on ‘Deep Dish’

Sat 27 May 2017

Guest review 4: Anja Murray on ‘Deep Dish’

Deep Dish starts with four people setting a table, not in any particularly dance-like way, just setting a table with colourful fruit and vegetables. It seems a fairly simple act of laying out a harvest bounty. There is a loud dripping of water from above; drip, drip, drip. Then the camera begins to project details of the vegetables onto a big screen, and we become witnesses to a world of the vibrant green crests and folds of a cabbage and a fennel as fabulous as an organza ball gown. At times it’s like wandering through a woodland thicket, albeit made up of carrot leaves.     

I didn’t really like any of the characters. They laughed falsely as they began to chomp noisily through the celery and slurp their wine. Their chatter was silly. They were self-admiring and self-absorbed. A snippet of conversation about a Norwegian seed bank gives an insight to some degree of worldly awareness and imminent collapse. But the party goes on, and there’s no sense, no narrative, no beauty even. It’s mostly disjointed babble and frenetic movement, aptly mirrored by some tiny shrimp-like things in a glass that are projected on the big screen.   

Things get messy when there’s some playful mushing up of fruit. They are having fun in a carefree childish kind of way. It’s cute. When a tomato gets gruesomely butchered in zoomed-in detail, I figure the message is mounting. And sure enough we are told, for the second time, via a hushed message from under the table, a furtive transmission, that there is a ‘secret’ that can’t be told, a revelation which would be too upsetting for us to hear. But we’re allowed to guess.   

Deep Dish is clearly trying to tell us something. Something that is too difficult to say directly. Something that would make us see things completely differently. If only we could listen. But nobody wants to listen. The response is just more disjointed babble. 

As an ecologist, the meaning in Deep Dish seems very obvious to me. I’d be curious to hear if others found the same meaning. It’s a beautifully oblique telling of our frenzied, nonsensical carry on. As time drip drip drips by, we just keep accelerating the squandering of our bounty.