Wednesday, 21 September 2005

The Minutiae of Inertia by Tyler Coppin, Sept 21, 2005

The Minutiae of Inertia by Tyler Coppin
Melbourne Fringe Festival
  Store Room, Sept 21 to Oct 8, 2005
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sept 21

The Minutiae of Inertia, written and performed by Tyler Coppin, is a striking and incisive study of a child and his father over one traumatic night amongst many others.

Mum has left both father and son and neither dad nor his seven-year-old son can sleep.

This is the first night in seven years that dad has visited the child's room upstairs and he knows that the child's normal sleeplessness and screaming behaviour have kept his mother demented since his birth.

 Now it is dad's turn to manage the night terrors.

Jimmy has a vivid fantasy life in his lonely upstairs room where  he plays at crashing planes into the Twin Towers and chanting George Bush's name. He tosses tiny dolls off buildings o their death and then drives in remote-controlled fire trucks to the rescue.

His favourite toy is a homemade Incredible Hulk, complete with realistic pectorals.

Coppin brings to life not only Jimmy but Hulk who is a gruff ageing Hollywood actor with shattered dreams. Jimmy feels Hulk is a completely separate character from himself and when Hulk shouts, Jimmy tries to quieten him to stop dad coming angrily upstairs

 Meanwhile dad is below, in his resentment and despair, drinking his way through a case of pinot noir to drown his sorrows about mum leaving him, his lost ambitions and failed career.

 He too has fantasies, mostly reminiscences about his deceased parents and his own childhood.

Coppin's performance is exuberant, controlled, skilful and moving. He is credible as both dad and Jimmy and the Hulk is a highlight, sounding a little like Jack Nicholson meets Michael Douglas.

Jimmy wears kiddy's pyjamas which means all three characters are in pyjamas but, despite them, we see Coppin transform into dad and Hulk, shifting his voice substantially and his body subtly.

Coppin plays Jimmy with a bright naivete and intense imagination. Dad he plays with an initial edge of menace that dissipates as we realise his incapacity. He is a drunk we at first suspect to be volatile but realise he suffers the inertia of the title.

Coppin's writing is smart and dad's dark musings often sound like lyrical beat poetry.

Anna Borghesi's design divides the space simply into Jimmy's room -  a table piled high with toys - and dad's lounge.

Minutiae is a fine solo performance of a charming short play.

By Kate Herbert

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