Tuesday, 6 June 2006

Treading Water by Trudy McLauchlan, June 6, 2006

Treading Water by Trudy McLauchlan
by Lunchtime Theatre
Horti Hall,  June 6 to 23, 2006

Reviewer: Kate Herbert on June 6, 2006

Lunchtime Theatre is a small company that performs at lunchtimes, Monday to Friday, in or close to the CBD. 

This means that workers can see the shows in lunch hours and those who prefer not to venture out at night can see a show. They even provide soup and bread.

Treading Water, written by Trudy McLauchlan, is a play they have performed in the past. It is a domestic duo, focussing on the peculiarities in a relationship between a young couple.

The play begins with the pair cleaning their living room. She (Amanda Armstrong) dances and tries to avoid work and engage him (Tim Stitz) in play. He maintains his focus on the cleaning, dodging her playfulness.

As he perseveres, moving from cleaning to laundry, the woman wanders off in her own mind, playing at being a pop singer, using a packet of Tim Tams as a microphone and singing a bizarre little tune called The man on the Horse.

She interrupts his laundry folding, trying to engage him with Knock Knock jokes, word games and, finally, resorts to elaborate, romantic stories about the gorgeous men she sees or meets.

Slowly, we realise that these men are all fantasies she creates to make her life interesting. He is jealous of the fantasy men. Being merely human is no competition for a dream man.

What becomes evident is that their inability to leave their apartment is a metaphor for their entrapment in both the relationship and their individual patterns of behaviour.

The metaphor seems forced and the style of the play is inconsistent. This may be the reason the two actors at times look and sound uncomfortable with the dialogue.

Stitz plays the warm and ordinary boyfriend well enough but there is little character development in the script for him. Armstrong seems to enjoy the bubbly character she plays but looks a little awkward with the shifts in style and focus of the script.

Director, Catherine Hill, chooses to set the play in a naturalistic setting but this constrains the play in the world of the real when it could possibly benefit from a more abstracted style of playing and design.

If you have a spare half hour and want a nice cup of soup and a show, this is a cheerful show to see.

By Kate Herbert

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