Thursday, 6 November 2003

Ride by Jane Bodie, Nov 6, 2003

Ride by Jane Bodie  
at Beckett Theatre, Malthouse, Nov 6 to Dec 15, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Nov 6, 2003

The storyline of Jane Bodie's witty two-hander, Ride, might be outside of some people's experience altogether. We can only hope so.

A young man and woman wake up naked in a bed together. They have no idea who the other is, how they met, how they got home nor whether they - um - actually had sex.

Both are hung over and suffering a frustrating selective amnesia. The important parts of the night before are obliterated.

The woman is performed energetically by Fiona Macleod. She brings to the role a vibrating anxiety and playful uncertainty. As her lover or non-lover, Christopher Brown  is delightfully underplayed and subtle. The two dance around each other emotionally. She tries to leave but her shoe is missing, and her bra, and her handbag and phone and, well, her memory.

Bodie's dialogue is swift, often hilarious and cleverly wrought. She never wastes a word.  Thoughts fly in unexpectedly and we are constantly surprised. The characters are beautifully observed, inner-urban ('It's Northcote but some people call it North Fitzroy') contemporary 20 somethings. 

They try to maintain distance while inwardly panicking about their apparent intimacy. They try to separate but end up playing scrabble on the bed where they had - or didn't - have sex.

Bodie, who also directs the play deftly, keeps the pace cantering along. Three scenes are defined by the shift of the bed on stage so we view them from a new angle each time. The design (by Simon Terrill, Jane Fullerton ) for the Northcote bedroom is established sparingly by the outline of a window frame, a plant and pile of bos and a mirror.

Music by Carl Pannuzzo  and evocative and unobtrusive lighting by Michele Preshaw  enhance the mystery of the play.

The beauty of the piece is in the unfolding of their secret selves to a virtual stranger with whom they feel strangely safe and comfortable with intermittent bursts of insecurity and doubt.

It is fascinating to watch two characters trapped by their own devices in a room in a single day as we follow their developing relationship from strangers to almost strangers. They could be an axe-murderers for all they know.

This is a delightful play with two warm and committed performances from Macleod and brown.

By Kate Herbert

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