Contemplating utopian dreams
EVERYTHING Working Dog Productions touches turns to gold and the Melbourne-based team’s latest ABC eight- part series, Utopia, is proving no exception.
Set in the offices of the Nation Building Authority, the satirical show follows the government organisation responsible for overseeing major infrastructure projects, where the collision of grand dreams and bureaucracy is a hazard of the workplace.
While in Perth last week, writer, producer, director and actor Rob Sitch said the Utopia journey began more than three years ago when the team started collecting “modern absurdities” which included office stories from EpiPen protocol to ordering gluten-free muffins for a no longer employed co-worker.
“Then we found we could scale it up because the absurdity doesn’t stop,” Sitch said.
“You can do $10 billion projects because stupidity is very scalable.”
The result was storylines surrounding big building schemes from rail lines to high-rise urban developments.
Sitch plays chief executive Tony and is surrounded by a cast of colourful characters and familiar comedy faces, including Kitty Flanagan, Lehmo, Luke McGregor and Celia Pacquola.
He said Perth’s infrastructure ideas had not gone unnoticed during their research into big projects.
“I reckon they spent too much on the Colosseum and one thing that always amuses me is the Parthenon almost sent Athens broke,” Sitch said.
“So I think that building big things that are too expensive has got a long history in human civilisation.
“We’ve got three layers of government so that’s three layers of dream makers.”
Sitch said what he enjoyed most while the series airs, probably more than any other program he has done, is the number of people who want to talk to him about their own brush with bureaucracy.
“Life’s pretty complex and it’s hard to predict how things go, so it’s quite satisfying to realise life is as silly as we’re making it out to be,” he said.
Utopia is screening on ABC1, 8.30pm, Wednesdays until October 1.
Rob Sitch at ABC Studios in East Perth.