Thursday, 20 February 2003

Snapshots by Peter Hardman, Feb 14, 2003

Snapshots  by Peter Hardman  

Gasworks Theatre, Feb 14 to March 2, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

The cavernous space of the Gasworks Theatre is unforgiving. It needs to be filled. Snapshots, written by Peter Hardman and directed by Susan Pilbeam  makes a valiant attempt to fill the space but it still remains huge and hollow.

Hardman's play is constructed in a series of short scenes about seven people and their various and nefarious relationships. Their connections are sometimes shady business, unromantic love triangles, the meeting of artistic desires or just plain platonic.

Ben  (Alan King) is an ambitious land developer who wants to build 'eco-lodges' into the hills overlooking the glorious ocean views of an isolated and dying coastal town. His offer is accepted by the owner of the land ( Reg Gorman)  but he meets resistance from the town cop ( Robert Kelty) and Kerry,  (Peter Stratford)  a wealthy businessman who wants to build a hotel.

A stroppy, pretty young woman (Venta Rutkauskas) complicates the narrative by seducing all the men. Hardman's two stories sit uncomfortably together. The graft and corruption around the coastal property is at odds with the various sexual peccadilloes of the characters.

In order to represent the numerous locations for these relationships, Pilbeam moves the action around the nearly empty stage.
One potentially interesting device is that the design is not actually constructed on the stage.

 Location and atmosphere are created by slides of landscape, people or paintings on two huge screens. These are evocative initially. However, the slides lose much of their fascination and effectiveness by Act Two.

Scene changes are too slow. With so many truncated scenes and several narrative threads and styles running simultaneously, the movement between stories and locations needs to be swifter and more efficient. Even music covering some of the slower silent changes could assist the mood and pace.

There are some good performances from Stratford and Gorman but the quality of the acting is uneven and the pace unvaried. The characters are two-dimensional and their relationships are predictable and under-developed. In the end we do not have any sympathy for any of the characters. We do not care about them.

By Kate Herbert

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