Felicity Burke’s thoughts on Short & Sweet week 7…
Short and SweetNewtown Theatre, Sydney
Wednesday 17 February 2010 Mikey?This comedy about a jealous and territorial cat called Mikey (Paul Layton) trying to disrupt an amorous encounter between his “mistress” Sarah (Silvana Lorenzo de Shute) and new guy Dave (Gavin Williams) felt like it was five minutes of material morphed into a quite uncomfortable ten minutes, watching the couple continuously simulate passion. It might have been more interesting if writer Scott Grimley had not allowed the cat to talk and left the actor and director Katherine R Davis to find the feline responses. Chit ChatSean (Salman Shad) takes his best friend Robbie (Naomi Livingstone) to see his dying Grandfather. Robbie believes she can see spirits but it’s Sean who sees and talks to Mary, (Sandy Velini) who tells him a few home truths about communication. Nicely acted, particularly by Velini, this was a sweet piece about “chit chat overdose” from writer Cameron Power and ably directed by Katie Grompertz. Hope Chest?Amanda (Tanya Ann Powell) has lost her baby and seemingly her wits. Her husband Ian (Matt Thomson) repeatedly asks her “What do you want?” and she struggles to articulate her need for grief and support. Director Stephen Carnell expressed the themes of the writer David McAmis and Powell was powerful in the role of bereft mother. One Plus One Equals One?Helen (Lizzie Gibney) talks to a fantasy image of a man, Fisher (Yannick Lawry) she met briefly at a conference. Writer Liz Schneidewin allows Helen to wrestle with her own thoughts and desires by projecting them onto this figment of a man and thus confronts the realities of her present unsatisfying relationship. Director Cec Busby kept the action very physically limited, always a gamble with such a dense script. Here it made the play feel small and somewhat stilted, stifling the actors at times. The Sound in the Throat?Liz Meriwether’s script about a husband’s infidelity and a wife expressing her pain and anger like a dingo is funny, clever and poignant. The Girl, (beautifully played by Lucy Miller) watched a documentary about wild dogs and through animal sounds and posturing tells the Boy (James Lugton) she knows about his infidelity. Lugton’s ‘mea culpa’ in its many forms is comically eloquent trying to fill the gaps left by the girl’s strange animalistic behaviour. Director Tanya Denny shows a deft hand with both the humour and the pathos in this well rounded piece.
Thin Air?A seemingly unlikely standout – this short play about an ageing high wire walker, whose husband has ‘come down’ (fallen to his death) was the highlight of the night. Gertraud Ingeborg showed how writer Thomas Coash’s lovely monologue should be enacted. She was entrancing in the role, holding the audience every step of the way. Director David Ritchie arranged the pace and play of emotions into a perfect balance. Bettered?Peter Shelley’s story has a plagiarized author, Jenny (Emma Harris) poison her rival Rose Cooper (Amanda Dromedary) with ground glass. Perhaps. It seemed an unlikely scenario that the two would willingly meet given one has stolen the story plot from the other and won an award with it. Shades of Short and Sweet? Shelley also directed an able Harris and Dromedary. Under A Suicide Cow?When the hero prop (in this case a cow) udderly (sorry) overshadows the actors it is hard to keep focus. Animal rights activist Belle (Susie Hardgrave) gives legal eagle Bill (Bobby Babin) a serve about his ethics and attitude. He happens to be dying under the now dead cow which jumped off the cliff in protest. Katie Pollock’s play makes some valid points and Luke Berman’s direction milks them (sorry again!) for what they are worth, and in the end, dairies (can’t stop now) a suicide copy-cow a-coming. The Man Who Fell Off His Bicycle?Glen Hergenhahn’s strange play about a German dancing man Landford (Bart Bronson) and a nineteenth century English couple Frederick (James Wright), and Constance (Rebecca Scott) was oddly mesmerizing. Peter Hayes direction allowed a use of the full stage and the choreography by Julie Rampson-Kohl and Lenny Choice held the eye and interest. Crash Test Dummies?Dummy Don (Andrew Sheehan) and Dummy John (Brendan Wynter) deserved a funnier script. The costumes, props, staging, sound and direction by Anny Slater was let down by not enough laughs in Russell McGilton’s dialogue. A potentially hilarious situation in which one dummy turns out to be human just didn’t deliver and that was a pity for all the good hard work that went into this production.