15 December 2007
The Arts Centre, Fairfax Theatre
Short and Sweet Week Two Wildcards exposed a lot of lovely writing, but not enough stories. And there was a general imbalance between direction and writing.
Rachel Welch’s script is a very satisfying dark grey. The plot twists and heads in unexpected directions and she never reveals all the information. Keeping Annabel and the reason for her kidnap a secret, ensures that the story is always about the people actually on the stage.
All The Way To The Top
There were some terrific comic performances in this offering from Pregnant Goldfish productions. It was tightly directed and a lot of fun, but there was no story. It was a great sketch though. Some work on the individual stories of the characters would take it a step further.
Leon Foo’s protagonist is scared of clichés, but Foo has written a short play full of clichés. The lover’s story was told in a very interesting, original and potentially engaging fashion, but every moment of their courtship and relationship was as predictable as a Home and Away episode. Too much focus on agenda, rather than character and story.
No where is safe. Two Brooklyn women have found themselves in Siberia. We assume because New York isn’t the safe place it used to be. Drew Larimore’s script combines good characters with mystery, tension and comedy. Nicely paced direction and performances.
Just Another Tuesday Night
Natalie Lopes’ script is one of the best written pieces I’ve seen this festival. It gently unfolds a complex and authentic story without ever letting any one character dominate or distract. Unfortunately the direction of this piece dominated. The choice to double cast may have been fun, but I never saw a reason for it. It didn’t add to the story. It did distract from the story. Uneven performances from the large cast added to the distraction. We were watching how it was told, not what was being told. The best direction goes unnoticed.
Cerise de Gelder’s created authentic characters and gave them a funny, original story and a divine dilemma. This should have been a laugh ‘til it hurts farce. The ingredients were perfect. It became a bit of a girls “why doesn’t me love me” ho-hum whine. Then it got good again. A much faster pace, a couple more twists and getting rid of the relationship speeches would turn this into a total winner.
The Pursuit of Happiness
Who knew life as a suffix could be so complicated? Michael McManus loves his metaphors and his complex nouns. It all works pretty well on the stage. The direction needed to be tighter and a few bits can easily be cut, but the concept was original. Nice to see language literally playing on the stage.
Julianne Donavan’s performance was stunning. Without doubt the most engaging and emotionally real performance of the afternoon. Mary Ann Butler’s script would have been so much more powerful with more work on story. Give this woman something to motivate her thoughts and actions. Give her a problem that leads to this exploration of herself. I kept expecting her to reveal that she’d had sex with her son’s friend or something along those lines. The sentiment was superb and let’s see more writing for women who do have grey pubes.
Notes of State
I wonder how much of the staging and direction came from Felcity Decker’s script. This was another play where the direction was so distracting that the story became secondary. What was the point of the upstage action when the character was narrating it anyway? The drunk/sober personalities didn’t even resemble each other and there were no consequences for his actions. Give him a tragic or a funny consequence to motivate his change. I’m not sure how the standard getting a bit pissed at work drinks scenario led to his actions.
Let’s hope that the sentiment of Darinka Kralj’s script becomes more and more historical everyday. Very funny and perfect snapshot of the unAustralian Howard years, complete with sorry jokes, clever country jokes and the inevitable map of tassie reference. My pick of the afternoon.
This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com