Thursday, 4 March 2004

Kiss them All Soundly by Jason Cavanagh, March 4, 2004

 Kiss Them All Soundly by Jason Cavanagh
Chambers Theatre Company 
Gasworks, from March 4, 2004
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Three nursery rhymes were the stimulus for Kiss Them All Soundly, the first play by Jason Cavanagh.

The play does not enact the rhymes but uses them as a jumping off point for three contemporary tragedies.

The play is successful in part. The most effective scenes are those in which the characters confront, reveal or admit their traumatic past experiences. These scenes have some emotional weight and more substantial narrative and characters.

In Georgie Porgie, George,  (Bill Johnston) an elderly man resting at a bus stop, meets Alice,  (Grace Anderson) a twelve year girl and they become friends.

We have some doubts about her safety, as does she at first. However, eventually she and we realise George is harmless and genuinely friendly.

In the story based on Mary Had a Little Lamb, James (Jason Cavanagh) is concerned about his wife, Mary, (Tamara Searle) who never leaves the house while he is at work. It is clear to us that she lives in a fantasy world in which her baby is still alive.

Simon  (Cavanagh) is caught in a strange world. He remembers nothing of his time immediately before arriving in what we know is a hospital.

He is angry, frustrated, impatient and cannot understand why he cannot leave and, later, why his wife and child do not visit.

The that intersect of these three stories at the end is interesting whereas the opening scenes are abstract, short and sometimes confusing or irritatingly obtuse.

Simon's initial daily conversation with Martin,  (Johnston) his doctor, is repetitive, as is the repeated action between Mary and James.

There are two false endings and three overwritten monologues. Cavanagh attempts to represent grief and trauma that causes mental breakdown. His representation of both is very superficial and the easy solutions to Mary and Simon's psychosis are unlilkely.

The actors often seem uncomfortable in the roles. Director, Jasper Bagg, moves actors between stories and roles. The delineation between the characterisations and the locations is often unclear on the stage.

This is a good effort for a first play but it needs some reworking.

LOOK FOR: The final silent image of the trio on a bus stop bench.

By Kate Herbert

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