Friday, 4 April 2003

Sideways, Aaron Smith & Hamilton Moore , April 4, 2003

By Aaron Smith  & Hamilton Moore 
Demolition Theatre  
Melbourne Comedy Festival
 La Mama, to April 13, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on April 4

Sideways is about two low life drug dealers, Shane (Hamilton Moore) and Madog  (Aaron Smith  who want to move up the ladder of drug dealing.

 The play suffers from too many words. The characters rarely stop talking so there is little space for visual comedy or much silent stage action. Shane and Madog try to set up a relationship with drug dealing real estate agent and part-time house breaker, Eddie, (Paul Farrell) but it all goes awry.

Meanwhile Eddie's na├»ve real estate colleague, Michael  (Jim Koutsoukos) is having a crisis of faith in real estate and seeks self-knowledge. This journey is evidently triggered by his unwitting consumption of drugs.

There is a great deal of 'suit' bashing. That is, a man in a suit can get away with anything because we trust him - probably true. The story lacks coherence although the writing is clever at times. However, the dialogue becomes convoluted when it attempts to make sociological or philosophical points.

The voice of the writers (Moore and Smith) overrides the voices of the characters. They all seem to speak the same language with little differentiation between characters. There is too much explication. In some scenes characters speak in speeches making the play didactic and preachy. We hear attacks on the establishment and issues such as the deadening quality of the acquisition of wealth.

This not only interrupts the narrative but it becomes tiring and patronising eventually. The humour is adolescent in the scene about a doctor treating a patient for haemorrhoids.  The performers work hard and are committed to their task but their handling of dialogue, relationship and character is weak.

The characters have no journey. The story is predictable and the handling of senseless violence is clumsy. The jokes are laboured and wordy. This is a valiant attempt for the Comedy Festival but it lacks originality and style.

By Kate Herbert

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