Still, a collection of eight monologues musing on the trials of modern relationships, is Mad March Hare Theatre’s latest production. Playing at the Old 505 Theatre in Surry Hills, which can only seat an audience of 30, the message of the show comes through loud and clear: relationship-wise, no one really has it together.
Written by Jane Bodie, this Green Room winner for writing tackles a string of different romantic scenarios, from taking someone home at the end of the night, to the aftermath of an affair, to the very act of preparing for a date. There are no hidden gimmicks in these stories; the framing devices do not interfere with the narrative. There isn’t a hint of a relationship here that could be called something like ‘functional’, and that’s what makes it all so intriguing.
As varied as the experiences are they become somewhat limited in their execution. It’s a largely white and largely heteronormative experience (the one monologue that represented queer sexuality, taking place in the gay club scene, had the unfortunate honor of feeling tokenistic). However, the assembled ensemble was strong, and acted with enough difference and skill to put thoughts of demography on hold.
Standouts included: Ben Wood, who opened the show at a cracking pace with a comic timing towards sexual dysfuntion (literal and mental) to be firmly admired; Beccy Iland, whose refreshingly subtle everyday woman in a supermarket was relatable and likable; and Kellie Jones, who was effortlessly delightful as a young woman taking herself through her pre-date routine.
Five directors came on board to tackle the monologues. Between themselves, directors Fiona Hallenan-Barker, Cathy Hunt, Lara Kerestes, Scarlet McGlynn, and Jessica Tuckwell certainly showcased the variety of the texts, but there were moments when the pieces felt a little too disparate to belong together. The rain-washed projection backdrop for one monologue was striking but never used again, and it could have been an effective piece of stagecraft, even perhaps through the transitions, which tended to jar one out of the rhythm of the evening.
To the production’s strict advantage was its housing in such close quarters; monologues managed to feel like conversation with the audience (particularly in the hands of actor Matt Hyde as he chatted up party guests) without breaking the fourth wall. If the goal was unflinching intimacy, it was certainly achieved. But I think what worked best of all was Still acting as a mirror in a crowded room, showing us ourselves, and that for all our mistakes made and games played, we’re not the only culprit.