For heaven’s sake just give them a grant!
PROJECT BESTFRIENDSHIP is a meta-theatre exploration of what it’s like not to have a grant. The brainchild and nurtured silliness of three indie theatre stalwarts, Ang Collins, Charles O’Grady and Eliza Oliver, the production sprang from a meeting of theatrical minds and has found itself, rather bewildered and blinking, on the stage at The Joan. Determinedly allusive, it is winning and whimsical and strikes a perfect whinge and whine balance.
Mind you: I would say that wouldn’t I? Because they really don’t like reviewers and I don’t want to end up starring in their show … allegorically speaking.
We meet The Director, The Dramaturg and The Actor played by Finley Penrose, Monika Pieprzyk and May Tran who quest off, Wiz-style, to find the man behind the funding curtain. Each will have a win in finding out more about themselves and the trio will maintain their commitment to a wholesome experience. Kinda! Guided by their originals, these doppelgangers will negotiate some precarious creative alps and ravines of “commercial viability” and creative instinct with wit and a willingness to try try again.
The writing in PROJECT BESTFRIENDSHIP is really fun, from precision honed individual witticisms (The nut free joke killed me but I was the only one who laughed at it … slightly too loud) to the constant theatre references (there’s a blazing riff on badly conceptualised Hamlets!). With big hits of theatre history inside the jokes and a delicious through line of production realisation refs, there is hard-won experience behind the text. The rejection sequence is hysterically, heartbreakingly real. Every now and then, like the solo digital draft, there needs to be a firmer dramaturgical hand on some of the more uni-skit elements but that doesn’t diminish the all-round enjoyability of this clever, well-edited script.
Another aspect of the production which is so attractive is the relationships. One character will grab the hand of another in a genuine expression of friendship and even as creative differences set in, the truculence of actors and the grandstanding of creatives can’t destroy the overall positivity of intent. With some great acting and complex fun with roles and realities the show doesn’t overstay its welcome at thoroughly agreeable 70 minutes.
Technically well-adjusted to the studio at The Joan, the light cues, vision sequences and simple setting of this incarnation show considerable theatrical intent and room for upscaling. Because … I would like to see this show again. It’s intelligent by design, dramatically satisfying and has a built-in potential for a granted life on a bigger stage.
Actually, having thought about it… maybe giving them a grant would destroy the cranky-pants conviviality of seeing PROJECT BESTFRIENDSHIP with a bunch of other indie-goers. Hopefully we will see. Now … in order to avoid ending up in the show here’s a strapline for your promotional copy …
PROJECT BESTFRIENDSHIP is enormous fun and a wry delight for anyone who has ever tried to make a living doing something passionate and creative. So there!