Despite being a successful stand-up comic for over two decades, Greg Fleet seems to be in the process of directing his talents for observation in a new and purposeful way with the concurrent release of his TV show Die On Your Feet and the opening of his play This Is Not A Love Song at the Blue Room.
The play features Fleet alongside Shane Adamczak and Tegan Mulvaney, with musical accompaniment from the very talented Mike De Gruzza, playing with the deep weave of memory and music, especially in regard to love in hindsight.
“It’s about a couple who come together through their love of music, but it’s also about them splitting up and having to split their record collection,” Fleet says. “They’re both very ‘cool’ and ‘credible’. They love The Ramones and Iggy Pop, but they both have a closet love of Daryl Braithwaite, which they both think of as their guilty secret until they realise they both love it.”
Fleet says the whole play is an exercise in memory, with Adamczak essentially playing an earlier iteration of himself. “It’s drawn from a lot of relationships, not just a single one. But most of it is drawn from reality.
“If you remember something a certain way, that doesn’t mean that’s how it happened. If you remember something incorrectly, does that make it a lie? Of course, when you look back across a lot of relationships you see themes or patterns in the way you treat people, be it well or not well,” he ponders. “When you start looking at it you think, ‘Oh my god! I never realised I did that,’ but of course, I did it all the time.”
Those familiar with Fleety’s backstory know that his history is littered with repetitive tales of excess – some of which are true. At present, he says that working on this project marks not only an achievement, but a change in his basic approach.
“Tegan and I throw around a lot of ideas, which is how we came up with the idea I should do the play. I wrote it at her house,” he says, “getting up at four in the morning and writing on her veranda drinking spiced rum. Because I was being constructive, I didn’t feel bad about smashing back straight Sailor Jerry’s and smoking fags at four in the morning.
“Because I was getting something done, you don’t feel bad about it. Maybe that’s why so many writers are alcoholics… maybe they’re alcoholics who write,” he deadpans.
“I’m thrilled I finished this. If I was doing stand-up, or a longer show, and it was just me… there have been so many times I’ve just thrown it together at the last minute, so many times I’ve looked back and thought, ‘It could have been so much better if I’d just done the work’.
“Working with other people, you make commitments, and I’ve kept them,” he says. “I finished the script early, I did the work and I’m really happy with it.”
This Is Not A Love Song runs at The Blue Room Theatre until September 6. For tickets and info, go to blueroom.org.au.