Dates: 1st-19th May
Where: 8A/32-60 Alice St Newtown
Tickets: $29 full, $23 concession, $20 cheap Tuesdays
Fiona Samuel, winner of the Special Prize for Woman Playwright has written a complex play with an intertwining set of characters, whose lives develop over a short course of seven weeks. Themes explored are love, sex, art and poetry (the fun ones) but also death, drugs, alcoholism, anger and depression (the not-so-fun-ones).
On paper, the storyline and dialogue is intellectual, witty, thought-provoking and dabbed with dark humour and sounds like an interesting play to see. Unfortunately, the performance detracted a little from what would have otherwise been a successful, dramatic production.
Director Julie Baz admits the intricate journeys of each character are somewhat confusing and posed the difficulty of determining the overriding theme and point of the play. She has embraced this fact and believes the hard-to-follow storyline contributes to the overall production and mirrors what often happens in life; where we struggle to identify meanings and have difficulty analysing our experiences. Such is life.
I understand that not everything has to be crystal clear and that a good play will exhibit depth and generate thought; however I was relying on the portrayal of the characters to tie everything together and to help me appreciate the character's situation, and I'm afraid there wasn't enough of a connection present. Some scenes appeared forced and mechanical; the actors didn't seem to have a great bond with one another or their character.
Paul Armstrong, who played housepainter Gus, stood out as the most experienced actor and he embraced his character completely despite it being one of the minor characters when compared with the others. His depiction made his scenes the most interesting to watch.
The staging was brilliant considering the space of the theatre - there were roughly 50 tiered-seats - and was creatively set to host all five locations in the play. Such a small space was chosen especially so the audience would feel slightly claustrophobic, just like each character, and the actors would be able to give an intimate performance. The effect was appreciated and well received. The only negative comment I have about the theatre and set design was that the seats were very uncomfortable - bring a pillow!
Overall, a very intriguing story but the performance didn't quite hit the mark.
Reviewed by Lana Hilton