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?
There’s a billboard for another show in Sydney that has the quote “if only every night in the theatre could be as good”. It’s a quote worth purloining for the Pantsguys Griffin Independent production of Simon Stephens’ ON THE SHORE OF THE WIDE WORLD.
Winner of the Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2005, the decade long wait for the play to reach our shores has been worth it with a finely hewn, polished production that befits the finely hewn, polished writing.
A family saga set in Stockport strewn over a 9 month period, it spills and sprawls over three generations of the Holmes family, grandparents Charlie and Ellen, parents Peter and Alice, and their sons, Alex and Christopher.
Synchronised like Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks, the pyrotechnic display starts with firecracker Christopher, the youngest of the family exploding with adolescent exuberance over the imminent sleepover of older brother Alex’s new girlfriend, Sarah, sanctioned by the boys’ parents whose only proviso is that they “be careful”.
Christopher is sex obsessed hoping to catch sounds of squeaky springs or any other noises of his sibling’s sexual encounter. On meeting Sarah, he becomes infatuated with her, borrowing a fiver from his grand-dad to buy her a present. Continue reading ON THE SHORE OF THE WIDE WORLD→
Which is also what I am doing now writing this brief piece on British playwright David Harrower’s SWEET NOTHINGS. Harrower’s play is a smart, contemporary adaptation of Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler’s 1895 play LIEBELEI (FLIRTATION). Schnitzler, the playwright who inspired the movies EYES WIDE SHUT and THE BLUE ROOM, described his play, written when he was in his early thirties, as a, ‘touching tragicomedy’.
The play is on a similar theme to one of my all-time favourite films, Swiss fimmaker Claude Goretta’s THE LACEMAKER, and starring French actress, Isabella Huppert. Huppert, who shared a Sydney stage earlier this year with Cate Blanchett in a Jean Genet play, plays a young woman whose spirit is shaken when she is abandoned by a careless lover.
SWEET NOTHINGS opens with two party boys, Fritz and Theodore, in a boisterous mood, getting ready for a big night out. Lothario Fritz has been having an affair with a married woman which is threatening to be exposed. Theodore is trying to distract Fritz from his adulterous affair by inviting two women over, party girl Mitzi and her friend, Christine.
The women arrive, everybody gets plastered, the party gets more and more decadent, and everyone starts kissing everyone… Then, there is a knock on the door, a Gentleman arrives…
John Kachoyan’s production serves Harrower’s play well and he wins good performances from the cast.
Ensemble Studios graduate Matilda Ridgway gives a well measured, touching performance a Christine, a naïve, sweet natured young woman who falls for Fritz. Christine Mills impresses as the brash, outrageous, Mizi.
Graeme McRae and Owen Little shine as the dirty, rotten playboys, Fritz and Theodore. Alistair Wallace plays the Gentleman caller out for vengeance. We have to wait until Act 2 to see veteran star of stage and screen, Mark Lee, who impresses as Christine’s anxious father, Weiring, and Lucy Miller plays family friend, Katherina.
Kachoyan’s creative team enhance the production with a good work coming from Sophie Fletcher’s well detailed costume and set design, Marty Jamieson’s atmospheric score and Hartley Kemp’s sharp lighting design.
SWEET NOTHINGS is the final production of the year in the ATYP’s Under the Wharf program. Recommended, SWEET NOTHINGS, a co-production by pantsguys productions and Geraldine Timmins, opened at ATYP Studio 1, Pier 4/5 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, on Friday November 8 and runs until Saturday November 23, 2013.
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