Wednesday, 29 November 2000
Deviations , Nov 29, 2000
by Allen O'Leary Elbow Theatre
at La Mama until December 17, 2000
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Deviations, by Allen O'Leary, is described in the program as "a stylish black comedy about sex." We can agree that it is quite grim and it is comical at times and that it focuses on sex. Unfortunately it is not stylish.
There are some funny moments arising out of this reflection of inner-urban angst and contemporary confusion about relationships, love, sex and sexual preferences. These wear thin after two hours.
O'Leary's script is crying out for a ruthless edit. This might make a reasonable one hour play but at 120 minutes, it is far too long. Scenes keep repeating themes, characters are dislikeable, unsympathetic and shallow.
The story is over-stuffed with social issues, deviant behaviour that is hardly shocking and stereotypes. The narrative is predictable but slow to unfold. The dramatic murder at the end was followed by a series of unnecessary scenes.
The four actors (Pip Branson, Michael Butcher, Lenore McGregor, Lucie O'Brien) look and sound uncomfortable throughout. They struggle with repetitive dialogue that is riddled with platitudes. There is far too much shouting in place of real emotion.
Iain Sinclair's direction lacks imagination. The scene changes are interminable and the repeated moving of furniture around the space in black-outs is irritating and unnecessary.
He has difficulty making this piece of naturalistic television drama work on stage. It is wooden and there is not design or lighting to pull it out of the ordinary into the theatrical.
Karen and Matt (O'Brien and Branson) are a young couple who have not had sex for two years since Karen was raped. Susan (McGregor) is a feisty and forward lesbian who owns an architecture practice. Her best friend is Richard, (Butcher) a gay man who is an unsuccessful and depressive poet.
What happens is a hot pot of shattered romance, lost love, betrayal, deceit and lies. Everybody is experimenting sexually. The straight characters play with the gays and vice versa.
By Kate Herbert