Wednesday, 9 June 2004

Re-Stumping Suburbia, La Mama, June 9, 2004

 Re-Stumping Suburbia 
by Kieran Carroll and Mark E. Lawrence  
 La Mama 9 to  20 June, 2004
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

The stories of four characters comprise Re-Stumping Suburbia. Their lives never intersect but their monologues are interwoven so that we presume they will.

The Man, (Mark E Lawrence) a failed poet, sits on a toilet atop a tall platform looming over the other three characters and us. He methodically peels and eats bananas - lots of bananas - and slurps from a wine bottle.

In various stages of undress, he complains of the loss of his youthful poetic potential and the rampant success of his colleagues and friends. Below his platform is a Woman (Meredith Lewis) languorously sipping wine and preparing for a party. It is 1983, she wears her favourite lime green scarf and travels by tram to the Carlton party with her friend.

The Girl (Jane E Thompson) is eighteen, middle class and a heavy drug user. She awaits a phone call while she tells of her drug and sex addiction and consequent arrest. The final character, Ajax, (Jacob Oberman) is a violent drug dealer who visits parties and clubs to ply his trade and assert his power. He pounds up and down the stairs intermittently in search of drugs.

The acting lacks light and shade and Lynne Ellis's direction seems too static for such a wordy piece. It needs some air breathed into both the production and the script.

There are occasional witty lines in the script by Kieran Carroll and Mark E Lawrence. There are laughs of recognition at references to inner urban life.

The Man's wallowing in the numbing boredom of his life is often funny. "I try," he says, "to guess the exact minute of the hard rubbish collection." The characters are clear presentations of a particular part of our underground culture but none is likeable or sympathetic. The party-going Woman is the least fully drawn. However, none of the four is a three dimensional character.

Jason Nelson plays sonorous jazz trombone throughout the short play. The music is interesting but often makes the actors inaudible.

Each of the four monologues has a simple story arc but the combination of the four never really satisfies.

LOOK FOR: The bananas

By Kate Herbert

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