Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Roulette by Raimondo Cortese, May 2, 2007

 Roulette by Raimondo Cortese
Carlton Courthouse, Wed to Sun 8pm until May 2 to 19, 2007
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on May 2, 2007

Roulette, written by Raimondo Cortese, is a series of twelve short, two-handers, three of which are performed in this program: Petroleum, Legacy and Hotel. Each play depicts a collision in time and place between two strangers or acquaintances in an intensely personal interaction.

The characters Cortese chooses to depict are ordinary, often damaged, living banal lives and invisible because of their very ordinariness. What they have in common is the need to connect, to be known and understood or to be given a fair go. All are unsuccessful in broad social or economic terms but each has a thoroughly individual life worth knowing and understanding.

Greg Ulfan directs the three plays deftly, concentrating on the often-volatile relationships between the pairs.

In Petroleum, Steve (Louis Milutinovic ), arrives distraught and spattered in dirt and oil at a roadside country garage after crashing his car into a stray wallaby. Young Gordon (Travis Handcock), a gentle country boy, invites Steve to wait for his Uncle, the mechanic, to return. While Gordon tinkers with a lawnmower, Steve’s frustration and rage at his own predicament escalate.

Milutinovic vibrates with unresolved anger making Steve dangerous and intimidating in his unpredictability.
Handcock has charm as the slow-talking and steadfast Gordon.

Legacy sees Theo (Joseph Sherman), an unflappable Greek construction worker, listening to the footy while he takes his lunch break outside his construction site. Sonia (Ella Caldwell), an irate young woman whose street market sales are adversely impacted upon by construction noise, interrupts him. What transpires is an intimate sharing of life stories, dreams, muddled political ramblings and useful advice from Theo as they smokes a couple of joints.

Sherman brings a joyful, laissez-faire attitude to Theo while Caldwell gives Sonia a brittleness and vulnerability.

Tara (Georgina Naidu) in Hotel, a tough and resentful hotel cleaner, rants and rails at her recent demotion. Jane (Gemma O’Connor) listens sympathetically while she changes out of her uniform and dresses for a late night date. Naidu, as Tara, shifts from laconic humour to bursts of rage and is balanced by O’Connor’s girlish restrained and supportive murmurings.

At times, there is a little to much shouting in all three plays but the trio of works makes a fine collection of idiosyncratically Australian characters and relationships.

By Kate Herbert

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