The Road Roach

Performances 8 & 13 March 1999
Venue Swanston St Melbourne, Melbourne Moomba Festival

Road Roach strret theatre image a close up actor in dual costume pink dress and black and silver insect, inside a cage

The Road Roach in Swanston St. Melbourne
Lizz Talbot, a half-insect creature and controller of the contraption
Photograph © Darren James, 1999

THE ROAD ROACH was an articulated street image created for the Melbourne Moomba Festival in 1999 commissioned by its recently appointed Parade Director, Liss Gabb.

Devised, directed and built by David Hope it was a giant metal contraption made of linked cages which were propelled by a large wheeled treadmill. Caged performers were costumed half-human/half-insect characters who steered the machine from within the wheel, and balanced on a bicycle from inside its central cage. Pedalling to propel and articulate the machine, its performers interacted with the crowd as it passed in grimaces and gestures that embellished their duality. A third cage trapped (or protected) a giant lollipop bobbing along in the front, unreachable.

Referencing the turn of the century Millenium Bug scare as well as Handspan Visual Theatre's 1997 production Raised by Wolves, the cages were topped by a large cockroach articulated by the performers pedalling power.

David Hope explained that:

'We wanted to do something that echoes the unpleasant Armageddon feeling - it's the only creature that would survive a nuclear holocaust', he said. He regreted that the Moomba executives vetoed his proposal to place a half-eaten Teletubby in the roach's mouth.

David Hope interview. Publication unknown, Melbourne, March 1999

ROAD ROACH was conceived as an image that could be a tourable street piece for appearances at festivals and events. These did not eventuate in the winding down of the company's activities that foreshadowed its closure in 2002, and ROAD ROACH was Handspan's last appearance in the street..

Road Roach side view of parade contraption showing wheel and first cage

Moomba Family Day

Road Roach parade image large cockroach head on top of cage with woman inside

Roach on the road: Megan Cameron in wheel and Lizz Talbot steering

Road Roach's 3 cage parade contraption on the street at night

Moomba Night Parade
Photographs © Darren James, 1999

Click photos to enlarge

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Creative team
Devised & directed by David Hope
Costume design Greg Clarke
Production team
Construction David Hope
Moomba liaison Liss Gabb
8 March, 1999 Moomba Family Day Parade
13 March, 1999 Moomba Night Parade
Total performances Roving spots X 2 days
Total audience Live parade audiences (100,000 +) & TV

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On the Street: