THE BIG FUNK by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright John Patrick Shanley asks what will one choose, love & life over death and neurosis?! The play cuts through our human delusions, striping society to its core and holds up a mirror to the audience to reveal the inner mess and carnage.
Audiences meet each character through a series of monologues, beginning with the self-described “villain” Jill, played with poise by Alixandra Kupcik, a misguided young woman who constantly finds herself in dysfunctional romantic relationships.
Then we are introduced to Fifi, most sweetly portrayed by Jessica Loudon, the subservient wife of disgruntled knife thrower, Omar. Michael Drysdale plays Omar who is a wonderfully lost soul who must confront his own protective, paternal instincts when he learns that his wife is pregnant with twins.
Then there is the unemployed actor Austin, played by a very capable Jasper Garner-Gore, whose desire is to make a difference in the world by showing a little kindness.
Lastly there is Gregory, cleverly played by Bali Padda, a strange self-absorbed man whose main role is to rub vaseline over Jill.
With their production CIRCUIT the Oligarch Theatre Company takes us into gym land, a world that has become the part of so many young people’s lives. The Oligarchs doesn’t give us the run-around, it delivers a satire on gym culture and behaviour.
We take our seats in the theatre and see the stage filled with the usual accoutrements of the gym world including the dreaded treadmill . The show starts in a suitably feisty way. A gym junkie is looking at themselves in the mirror, another enters and comments,- ‘Should I leave you two alone?!’.
Over the course of the play, that runs about two hours including interval, we get to meet six regular gym junkies as they do their moves and tells us their particular stories/journeys. Each character has been written by a different writer, with in four cases the writer getting to perform their creations themselves. They come across as very recognisable types…
Michael Drysdale impresses with his character, trainer Joel. At first, we see him as very caring and supportive of his clients however later on we see his methods as being quite calculated and business-minded, especially in the way that he entices and traps new clients into contracts. Sound familiar?!
Tom Mesker gives a strong performance as Justin (role written by Josh Forward). As far as how the body works and all its physiological constellations go…Justin knows it all. He is might as well be an MD!
Sean Corcoran plays Adam, a shy, nervous young gay guy, a bit over-awed by the mass of great male bodies working around him. A favourite quote, ‘the SHIFT nightclub is like a fish tank that hasn’t been cleaned in 3 months’.
Aimee Timmins plays the colourful, a little bizarre lesbian Janine (role written by Amanda Yeo). Janine is a bit of the over-flowing, am I sharing too much type. Very gossipy, a little Goldie Hawn like, into the Zumba and sees herself as a new age feminist.
Anika Herbert plays her creation, Kelly, who gets herself all worked up with her creative visualisations as she keeps on encountering Jane Fonda in her prime to often hilarious results.
My favourite performance of the night was Grace de Morgan who played the highly strung, disillusioned and indiscreet yoga teacher, Darcy to perfection. Her poor class finds out all about her failed romance with another yoga teacher Allejandro, who didn’t turn out to be far from the perfect, spiritual human being that she had imagined.
The verdict. CIRCUIT was a fun night at the theatre, featuring mostly gentle satire on what has become a modern obsession. I go along with what one of the characters said about their gym experience, ‘All these masochists look the same…like a bunch of sweaty robots…a sorority of sweaters’.
CIRCUIT is playing the Old Fitzroy Theatre, 129 Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo until Saturday 29 June, 2013.
SYDNEY REVIEWS OF Screen + Stage + Performing Arts + Literary Arts + Visual Arts + Cinema + Theatre +