Tuesday, 1 October 2013
Reviewed by Regi Su
From the 19th of September, The Ensemble, Kirribilli hosts “Camp”, a crazy comedy following the antics of a group of families on their Boxing Day camping holiday. Each family is dysfunctional in their own right, so spending time trapped in a communal camping ground is the perfect place to set a comedy, while magnifying some of the more relevant human experiences.
In hindsight, the plot isn’t outlandishly unique and the character development, conflict, climax and resolution are all evident as a formulaic stage text. However what makes this play very clever is the fact that playwright Gary Baxter has managed to flawlessly script chaos, which is a very difficult thing to accomplish. His dialogue is balanced, heavy with implied humour, satire and the taste of the production is inherently Australian, which in my opinion is rather refreshing.
To further the success of this production, Baxter’s heavy chaos wouldn’t have been possible without the passionate dedication of such a high calibre cast under the great direction of Mark Kilmurry. The dynamics of the cast were perfect, their power was raw when necessary and they had total believability when performing their roles- I believed they were who they said they were and I believed we were at a campsite in the sweltering heat. I thought the actors and the script were very crafty in being able to highlight small idiosyncrasies and heighten character and nuance, and these are indicative of great theatre because for that moment, as you sit in the dark, you leave your own world behind and escape for a while.
The play didn’t need your involvement, it didn’t ask you to decode or work for anything. As the audience, you were only asked to be open to the journey ahead. There were people who roared with laughter and people who sat horrified at the sickening reality of campsite claustrophobia. For some, well for me at least, the play came a little too close to home in their portrayal of the typical Australian camping experience.
In terms of production, The Ensemble delights me every time. The set was perfect, astro-turf, washing line, doggy-poop and all. Their attention to detail in the prop and lighting department really authenticates the play. I’d also like to mention that there was a mix-up at the Box office and the office staff were more than helpful with my tickets. “Camp” is a play that is fun, relative to our own experiences, as happy campers, or even just as Australians. It’s a nice break from reality for two hours and it’s well-executed, light-hearted fun.