An evening of cutting edge, contemporary theatre awaits you if you make your way to the Reginald at the Seymour Centre.
GLORIA invites us into the world of magazine publishing. The show starts with banter between some twenties something staff members and an intern who gets all the dogsbody jobs. The talk centres on a .party given the night before by the office dag Gloria with only one member of staff attending, very reluctantly.The smarminess of the office gossip ends abruptly when a totally unexpected event takes place. Continue reading GLORIA @ THE REGINALD→
American playwright Sarah Delappe takes us into the world of a teenage women’s soccer team, THE WOLVES. The play has generated plenty of interest, not surprising considering how popular women’s soccer is in Australia and of-course we have our own much loved national team, the Matildas.
THE WOLVES follows the team as they compete over a number of matches in an attempt to qualify for the Nationals (the main competition in America). The players take their sport seriously and are keen to be discovered by talent scouts who come to see them play. It may lead to a scholarship to a University which then gives gives them great career options.
Whilst it is a sports story, the focus is more personal as we get to know each of the girls, and their issues. For example, there’s the goalkeeper suffering from high anxiety who isn’t able to open up to the group and spends a lot of time rushing to the toilet to throw up..Continue reading THE WOLVES: FEMALE SOLIDARITY ON THE SOCCER FIELD→
THE WOLVES had a sell out season last year (SAG Review) and is making a welcome return to a new venue. A Pulitzer Prize short-listed play by Sarah DeLappe the production is again directed by Jessica Arthur.
Nine young women are members of a soccer team and over a season the audience will get to know each, their drive and weaknesses as they bond as a team. Michelle Ny is reprising her role as #14 and we had the chance to speak with her before the show moves into production week.
SAG: Thank you so much for your time. I gather it’s your lunch break so special thanks on that. You must be pretty busy.
TS Eliot might have enhanced humankind with the philosophical exploration of the final treason …“to do the right thing for the wrong reason.” But what if it is the other way around? What if every instinct is telling you that the wrong thing you are tempted to do is for the right reason. Such is the dilemma of the lead character of PLASTIC by Bodysnatchers Theatre Company, written by Mark Rogers.
This is a new work. A really entertaining 90 minutes! Beautifully written, stylistically excellent and helmed by a don’t -miss lead performance.
Franz Henrik Schultz has arrived from Germany to NYC. He’s a physicist and has been headhunted. It’s a bad time to be away from home as his father is very unwell and getting to the point of refusing treatment. But he makes friends easily despite his diffident social awkwardness. Another scientist Xian, his lab partner Andrew and a secretary at ‘Nature’ magazine rally around him. Especially when this babe in the woods is at his most awkward around his new boss, Mr Gruber.
But it is evident from very early in the play that Franz Henrik has a vision for a better world… a world where physics takes humanity from pain to joy. He speaks about it so eloquently and passionately that we are sure the vision will burn out eventually. After all, he is in the dog eat dog, publish or perish, world of scientific capitalism. No kudos, no lab time!
Franz Henrik seeks a tiny flash of light that will prove his polymer/power experiment has possibilities. As he embarks on a representative elucidation of this test, many people including me leaned forward in their seats. It’s such an engaging performance from Nick Bartlett, he is in every scene, his energy never flags and we are pulled with him all the way.
The audience breath holding for this simple experiment evidences emotional investment and that kind of empathy is nurtured so well in Bartlett’s performance. We are the friends he makes so easily. Franz Henrik also has an arc to travel and Bartlett does this with complete believability and nuance. There is Cleeseian frustration and tumultuous ignoring of the ‘bad thing’. Yet there is also the sweetness of a suitor, a kind of polymer flirting of attraction and power.
There is a ‘Will He, Won’t He’ mystery to it, too, and PLASTIC is written with that curiosity available to an audience. There is dramatic tension as the bad thing and the right reason intersect for Franz Henrik and penned differently, this play could rely entirely on narrative and perception. But what lifts it is this: at just the right times, logic and remove are promulgated.
There’s an absurdity in the penultimate sequences of the play that are written to betray much that we have experienced. You see, there is more than one betrayal in the text and treachery needs to be felt not just watched. PLASTIC IS not just storytelling.
A play with science as both background and impetus, and there is some serious jargon going on, could put barriers between show and audience too. Even the Gruber character struggles to accurately express what we are looking at. But this is one element is not designed to distance the audience. It’s complex, accurate, accessible, not dumbed down. Charmingly too, for the bits we don’t get, the fact that even Gruber doesn’t grasp it either makes us feel better.
The object of our hero’s advanced, awkward flirting is Amelia, (Hannah Goodwin). Goodwin plays Amelia with a slight detachment which gives her the forthrightness required to throw a light onto Franz Heinrich’s choices. Her comedic skills are up to the challenge of the quite complicated dry wit and her comebacks, often a repetition of previous sentence are cleverly spun.
Michelle Ny is also an strong asset to PLASTIC, taking quite a few parts to propel the story. Always interesting to watch, she brings a new physicality to each character without twisting or subverting each by broad differentiation. Again, this technique allows an audience buy-in.
Franz Henrik’s mate, Andrew appears to be a lackey at first. A bit of a yes man as he hovers around Gruber but there are hidden depths that are well brought out by Harry McGee. He has a tendency to give his CV at every introduction to a new person and there is a boyishness to him that is endearing yet allows for the growing up that will happen when the ‘right reasons’ seductively asks of him.
Douglas Niebling’s Gruber has no arc to travel. The very model of a modern Chief Operating Officer Niebling gives us the very clear indicators for how Gruber is in the world. But more difficult to do, he shows us what he sees when he sees what we see. Precision is all. Gruber is very disconcerted by any steps outside the rules.
The production values and design of this production are excellent. Creating simple rather than doing it simply are very different things and set, costumes, lighting and audio are integrated elements of a conceptual whole here. I loved this aspect of PLASTIC.
The audio score (Liam Halliwell) is spectacularly redolent. There are times when the silence is a blanket across the emotions that are threatening to burst, the final scene is a great echoey example, but at other times the music guides and shapes the emotional responses. The distant high pitched, beautifully operated electronic feel under an expository phone call … marvellous. And when Heinrich falls into despair, the heartbeat motif which has pulsed quietly behind becomes more insistent as it morphs into the beep of machines and the squeal of tech. Again excellent levels from the operator.
The lighting is snappy as. Designer Frankie Clarke uses an off symmetry rig to match the oblique staging and a striking white, institutional glare provided by fluorescent tubes is simplicity itself. Those hits of colour from up left are lovely and cleverly used when occasionally they will really make Bartlett stand out by making the top of his head glow, just his … he’s the tallest.
The set is also pure, colourless. I really loved the costuming in this production … unified, single elements like inky doodles on scrap paper as great thoughts are being ruminated upon.
Many of these design decisions have been made by Bodysnatcher’s creative pairing of Sanja Simic, who also directed, and Mark Rogers. And there are other terrific decisions which make the PLASTIC so good. The choice not to use accents, German or American is an excellent one. This is after all a home grown production with an international reach. I even heard the occasional “no worries” in there. The movement around the uncluttered stage flows imperceptibly well but stillness is often used to foreground the richness of the wordplay.
PLASTIC is a new work and the company will get feedback on such things as props and length but I really enjoyed it in its current form. Do the right thing for the right reason, support independent theatre and see PLASTIC playing at Old 505 Theatre, Newtown until 18th November.
For more information about PLASTIC and Bodysnatchers Theatre http://www.bodysnatcherstheatre.com/
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