David Gieselmann’s play, translated by David Tushingham and presented by Pantsguys, is absurdist black comedy at its best. It produces many laughs, numerous plot twists, some shocks and highlights some very unpleasant aspects of human behaviour.
A bored young couple, Sarah (Claire Lovering) and chaos researcher Ralf (Tim Reuben), invite Edith (Paige Gardiner) who works with Sarah and her architect husband Bastian (Garth Holcombe) for dinner and an evening of mind games and manipulation. They fail to provide dinner and order take away pizzas in one of the plays many clever comic moments.
Things take a dark turn when Sarah & Ralph claim they have killed their co-worker Mr Kolpert and put his body in a large trunk which features on the side of the stage. Did they really murder Mr Kolpert, or are they just carrying out a grim wind-up of their guests, especially Bastian, who comes to truly believe they are the callous murderers despite their urbane and witty chat?
THE LIGHT BOX is a new play written by Natalia Savvides inspired by her research into the experiences of women in colonial institutions.
It is formed from a number of, at first, seemingly unconnected short scenes set in the present and the past but not in any strict chronological order.
I found it helpful at the commencement of the play to have the program which lists the scenes. As the play develops connections among the characters become more evident but as the playwright states it is not the intention to have a straight narrative or an easy answer to the questions of love and freedom given to us. The playwright leaves it up to each audience member to deicide what is truth and what is imagination.
As a character seems to head in a positive direction with a relationship they then often fall back into turmoil. Silence and repression of emotions for the sake of public face can have tragic results. Yet there is also humour and hope.
Three of the four actors play more than one role and all are distinctly different in each of their roles. Dean Mason plays a cleaner falling in love, at least temporarily, and also a giant toucan in a skilfully crafted costume designed and created by Dylan Tonkin and Bradley Hawkins.
Tom Christophersen, as well as playing a taxidermist and a lost lover on a cruise boat is a “man of spoons” with sets of cleverly constructed spoons for hands and face. Hannah Barlow effectively portrays a woman trapped in an institution and her past who seeks a greater freedom. Stephanie King plays a character who lives both in the past and the present and is a tragic soul in one scene with a spoon piercing her hand.
Though this is not an easy night at the theatre, as the audience is expected to consider for themselves the possible implications and development of the different relationships, the play maintains its fascination and intensity for its 70 minutes duration,
The director James Dalton successfully creates a range of locations and times, perhaps some refer to the “box” in the title and the stage manager Angharad Lindley has ensured the smooth running of scenes and change of props. The sound design by Nate Edmondson and lighting by Benjamin Brockman add atmosphere and help the audience as it constantly has to reorientate.
THE LIGHT BOX is produced by Fat Boy Dancing and We Do Not Unhappen and runs until Sunday 28 July at 107 Redfern St Redfern.
A friend of mine recommended this show after I spilled to her that I was a big Tarantino fan. This provided me with certain expectations and with a name like A BUTCHER OF DISTINCTION, how could you go wrong?!
Rob Hayes new work, currently showing at the Old 505 in Surry Hills, is a compelling piece about twin brothers. Hugo (Liam Nunan) and Hartley (Heath Ivey-Law) find themselves in London, cleaning up their Father’s secret alternate lifestyle after a terrible family tragedy. Their predicament progressively worsens as Teddy (Paul Hooper), one of his fathers’ acquaintances barges into their apartment demanding a large sum of money owing to him. The play travels along a somewhat bewildering line with its focus initially on the boys’ plight, and then shifting without warning to a bizarre revelation of the boys’ alter-egos, a butcher and a goatherd.
The show is hinged on the relationship between the two brothers and their upbringing on a secluded country estate; director, James Dalton works nicely to tie the loose ends of the script together to form a convincing progression from realism to absurdism. Hooper’s performance as the malevolent brothel owner is a standout and he brings a great consistency to the work.
The play doesn’t take itself too seriously and embraces the theatricality of the script and characters, as long as you’re not too squeamish this show will give you a lot of laughs. For an engaging and bizarre night at the theatre that will leave you with a lot of questions. Go and check it out.
A WE DO NOT UNHAPPEN and Old 505 Theatre co-production, A BUTCHER OF DISTINCTION opened at the Old 505 Theatre in Surry Hills on Wednesday 8th May and runs until May 26, playing from Wednesdays to Sundays.
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