12 October 2010

Review: Oh Well Never Mind Bye

Oh Well Never Mind Bye
Red Stitch Actors Theatre
10 October  2010
Red Stitch Theatre
to 6 November

Red Stitch Actors Theatre rock and I don't want to hear a bad word against this innovative company that brings us scripts that we'd never see otherwise and has been the training ground for some of the best actors in town. So ... I'm going to give myself a really dirty look when I've finished this.

Oh Well Never Mind Bye left me angry, not at the world for being such a bad place or because it ran long and I missed a show I wanted to see at La Mama, but because I'd spent nearly two hours searching for something other than good performances and a great design.

For me, it felt like a long angry rant by a young enlightened artist who knows so much about the world that they have to grab that mirror Brecht spoke about and hold it up to the complacent middle class noses of everyone else who can't see their bleeding obvious noses.

With overly-written, overly-clever dialogue that sounds like someone has spent hours imagining what nasty journalists might sound like and a directional tone that places everyone as a total cunt from the get go, I wondered if it was meant to be a black satirical comedy – but no one was laughing and the good journo was getting serious. I'm still hoping it is comedy, but ... the only thing that got a giggle from the audience when I went was a cutsie pink pen.

It's set in a newspaper office in London after the 2005 tube bombings when an innocent man was shot by the police when he was misidentified as a suspected terrorist. There's struggle over using AP feed or finding out the truth,  and the money-grabbing selfish owners of the paper have a clear influence. Of course being in Australia we'd never see such journalistic atrocities. Yes that hurt to write even in jest. So why preach to the choir?

It gets worse when the hard-done-by journo (whose performance is as good as hers always is) went off to the middle east and tries to submit a story about an Arab boy being shot.  If you're going to discuss Palestine and Israel you have to really know what you're talking about. In Via Dolorosa, David Hare made my heart cry with confusion and understanding while showing me sides of the picture that I hadn't considered. Oh Well Never Mind Bye felt like it was researched on Wikipedia. I've read better researched and expressed stories in Green Left Weekly and The Australian writes with more understanding about The Greens.

There is a well-plotted story in there, but felt as contrived as the story one of them writes about the man fiddling with his bag at the tube station.  If you want to talk about politics and how bad professionals are at their jobs, write a pamphlet, run for office or blog. If you want to change our hearts in the theatre, tell us a story about people.

This review appears on AussieThearte.com

Cameron Woodhead loved this for The Age and his blog. It seems like it got the laughs that were so missing when I went.  Best way to decide is to see it for yourself.

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