Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & playwright (21 plays). Pub. Currency Press. Teacher Scriptwriting 2019, Melb Polytechnic; Worked as actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation, Playwriting. Kate was Head of Drama/Teacher, NMIT; Former Coordinator of Writing/ Editing, Swinburne Uni. Read reviews here or: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer doesn't always work on blog.
Sunday, 1 December 1996
Double or Nothing, Dec 1, 1996
By $5 Theatre Napier St Theatre until Dec, 1997
Reviewed by Kate
Herbert round Dec 1, 1997
Funny isn't it how
official and government bodies now call "Gambling"
"Gaming". By simply dropping a couple of letters we lose the disease,
the social ill, the family problem.
It is no longer a matter of luck or loss, fortune or
misfortune. It is a Game! It's Fun! Thank you, Jeff, for saving us from such
painful definition. We feel much better losing our salaries now.
$5 Theatre Company's latest devised show focuses on
gambling, probability, chance, superstition and Crown Casino. It reverts to the
old "agit-prop" (Agitational Propaganda) style of theatre that was
very popular in the 70's in Britain and harks back to Leftist theatre all over
Europe. It is simple in form but leaves one thinking in the truly Brechtian
way. It is light and entertaining employing a series of vignettes, tableaux,
and direct engagements with the audience. It even runs a real horse race
complete with TAB tickets and audience winners and losers.
But, in spite of its light touch, we cannot leave blithely.
It has an uncannily discomfiting after-bite. It clearly triggered after-show
discussion of a political nature. The old-boy private school network of John
Elliot, Kerry Packer, Lloyd Williams and Ron Walker (all responsible for
Crown), wields enormous public and clandestine power.
The casino is robbing
the public blind. Casinos never lose. Punters lose. The government may be
taking taxes from gambling, sorry, gaming bodies such as TAB and Crown but the
losses are still incurred by the people of Victoria.This state is eating its own young.
The political satire, the comfortable chat of the actors and
their accessibility allow us to be lulled into a false sense of having seen
something inconsequential but the didactic is at work on our little psyches.
Clever old $5.
The one piece of realism in the show is Seamus, the
recovering compulsive gambler who confesses his dreadful but all too credible
sins directly to us.
This is the stuff of great human drama but naturalism is not
the core of this piece. $5 do not want us absorbed in a single emotional drama,
a private torment of one man. They want to leave us thinking and screaming for
change. Perhaps Kennett has done us one favour. We may have some theatre that
challenges the status quo.