Most Sydney theatres have something running to support the LGBTQI community during Mardi Gras. Gone are the days when it was about grasping for the pink or lavender dollar, the offerings these days are genuine attempts to tell stories which put the gay and lesbian community on stage with dignity and acceptance. MAKING LOVE does that in spades. The story may have a heterosexual story as the plot driver but love is the theme. Whoever you love.
It’s the future. One can buy abiding love if you are as rich and successful as Sara is. Sara is nervous. She has purchased or designed or created or customised (euphemisms abound and there is an evident nomenclature war for acceptance) a synthetic companion D’Arcy. D’Arcy is being delivered with the support of a PAXCORP representative, Mitchell and his synthetic partner Hercules. It’s all a bit comfy until Jackson, an old flame, unexpectedly bursts in and skews the dynamic. There is also a truth game invented by Hercules which threatens the harmony.
The story is good. There are some funny future references, I especially enjoyed the downloading of a brewery and a Martiantini has appeal. Some of the themes are very interesting: the idea of guardianship; the tension between organic and ‘the other’; trying to be what others want you programmed to be. The characters are clearly written too.
Hercules (MATTHEW OBERG) is written as big and dumb with physical attributes designed by a lover of men, yet intelligence enough to keep someone interested long term. D’Arcy (PHILIP D’AMBROSIO) is a blank slate with behaviours arising. Jackson (JESS SCOTT DRIKSNA) is a company man who encapsulates the eternal struggle between what society requires us to be and what real life is like when situations and companions are uncontrollable. Jackson (SHANNON DANIEL FALLOWS ) is the little boy lost after suffering loss. Sara (ELEANORE KNOX) is successful but lonely and her late monologue to describe why she has chosen a synthetic is beautifully penned.
The narrative and character elements of MAKING LOVE have some positive resonances and would make a terrific short story. Unfortunately as a piece of theatre it does not satisfy. Not for want of trying though. The cast work well as a unit. The production design is excellent, the costumes are perfect and the onstage Audio Artist (CLAUDINE MICHAELS) is an interesting element of the design choices.
Word on the street is that the show has lengthened considerably over its preparation period and in the form it is now presented it is just too wordy. Too many repetitions or exaggerated riffs on simple ideas. The monologue is lovely but over 2 hours in I was too numbed to enjoy the fine work of Eleanore Knox. There is a tension obviously when the writer is part of the cast (JESS SCOTT DRIKSNA) , it’s hard to trust those writerly instincts for subtlety and precision when your fellow actors are so giving and engaged.
A stronger Director’s eye (MARTIN ASHLEY JONES) would also help to close up the gaps between dialogue and help the cast to find tension in the text. Sitting five of them on a sofa for up to 15 minutes, does not help the static feel to the show. It’s a big stage with lots of space for movement and if two loving, beautiful men dancing with a live DJ doesn’t lift a production then a re-work is required.
And there is terrific potential here. This is a show which has been developed with thought. It’s been created with care and considerable effort. MAKING LOVE has the best possible intentions so if you know any of the creatives, cast, crew or you want to support an important institution like King Street Theatre please buy a ticket.
MAKING LOVE continues at the King Street Theatre, corner King and Bray Street, Newtown – the St Peter end- until Feb 25th.