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Craig Reucassel is momentarily caught up in the swell of matrons exiting a matinee performance of Three Little Words – an unforeseen consequence of agreeing to meet at a cafe near the Melbourne Theatre Company.
The comedian, best known as a member of the satirical team The Chaser, looks remarkably shiny for someone who has spent weeks trawling through garbage for a not-so-little three-word, three-part ABC documentary of his own called War on Waste.
In a stunt filmed earlier this year, Craig literally stopped Melbourne in its tracks by filling a tram with 50,000 disposable coffee cups – the number dumped in landfill in Australia every half-hour.
“It is a very unglamorous topic, but it is actually quite fascinating to see how people respond to it,” says the father-of-three.
It’s this ability to inform people in an entertaining way and, hopefully, where necessary, create impetus for change that has been at the heart of the 40-year-old’s “accidental television career”.
Having qualified, but never practised, as a lawyer, it is issues that still fascinate him, whether it’s stirring up politicians through the various Chaser incarnations or exposing how consumers are duped and manipulated on the ABC’s The Checkout, which Craig presents with fellow Chaser member Julian Morrow.
Now in its fifth year, The Checkout is a meticulously researched, labour-intensive program that has outraged some pretty big players. However, none has yet made good on a threat to sue.
“You go in thinking this will be an easy story and it is always massively complex,” says Craig. “Milk – milk was a nightmare. Every time milk comes up in a meeting everyone goes, ‘Nooooo’. It’s hellish because it is not as simple as the popular perception that $1 milk is killing farmers.”
But for all the work The Checkout involves, Craig still finds time for other projects. Last year, he and fellow Chaser Chris Taylor appeared in a new David Williamson play Jack of Hearts. Later this year they will be joined by Andrew Hansen in a production of Neville’s Island – an award-winning play by British dramatist Tim Firth.
“There’s definitely earlier stuff I look back on and think some of it’s a bit rubbish,” Craig says. “But I’m enjoying the ride: a documentary here, a bit of a play there – the natural journey of wanting to avoid the law.”
WHAT I’M DOING NEXT
War on Waste airs on ABC TV on Tuesdays at 8.30pm and is also available on iView #WarOnWasteAU
BREW HA HA
- Corner Sturt Street and Southbank Boulevard, Southbank
THE VIBE \ Buzzy Asian-inspired restaurant and bar perfectly poised between the Melbourne Theatre Company and Melbourne Recital Centre.
THE BREW \ Sensory Lab’s Sweetheart blend puts some extra love into Craig’s flat white and my skinny latte.
THE FOOD \ Affordable Eastern cuisine zinging with flavour and offering plenty of options.