Thursday, 19 May 2005

Naming Rights (family matters), May 19, 2005

Naming Rights (family matters)
 By Meg Courtney, Chris Howlett & Xan Colman Dancing with Strangers
150-156 Dante's, Gertrude St, Fitzroy, May 19 to May 28, , 2005
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on may 19, 2005

Small theatre company, Dancing with Strangers, presents three new, short plays in its season, Naming Rights (family matters). They have varying degrees of success.

The most effective is Plum, written by Xan Colman (OK) and directed by Rochelle Whyte. The style is abstracted and formalistic with the entire ten-minute dialogue being repeated in every detail.

The effect is to heighten the dilemma of this young couple, Jack (Sam Davison OK) and Kate (Mikaela Martin OK), who we surmise are anxiously awaiting an appointment for a pregnancy termination.

The repetition also clarifies the situations of their off-stage friends, one lesbian couple having a baby and the male gay couple who has assisted them in the conception.

There is little emotional engagement in the piece but the actors are competent and the direction exploratory. There is an effective sense of urgency in the dialogue and a restrained panic in the characters.

Turn, written by Meg Courtney and directed by Bruce Hughes, tackles the delicate subject of an adult daughter (Sharon Kershaw) managing her changing relationship with her mother (Marie-Therese Byrne) who has a debilitating stroke.

Although the issues are important, the play has too many short scenes and too little dramatic or character development of character.

The daughter acts as narrator which disallows any real communication between characters, the mother is shrill and unengaging and the father (Ian Rooney) is almost invisible.

The final play is the least successful. Lucy Devil Has Wealth Syndrome, written by Chris Howlett and directed by Justin Murray, is a parody of a soap opera but without the acerbic quality or cunning detail of Desperate Housewives.

Lucy Devil (Nicola Alexopoulos) is a fading starlet suffering Wealth Syndrome, a mythical illness caused by too much wealth. Her agent (Michael Cooney) and her assistant (Sophie Good) are conspiring to rip her off but Lucy prefers their dubious attentions to that of her sister (Liza Kennedy).

This piece feels like an undergraduate review with limited acting skill, clunky dialogue and unimaginative direction.

One of the highlights of the productions is the inventive lighting by Richard Vabre. Who uses a few lamps and colours to create atmosphere.

By Kate Herbert

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