Thursday, 7 June 2007

Tape by Stephen Belber, June 7, 2007

Tape by Stephen Belber
Human Sacrifice Theatre
At  Chapel off Chapel, Thurs to Sat 8pm, Sun 6pm, until June 7 to 24 2007
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on June 7, 2007

Tape, written by Stephen Belber and directed by Morgan Dowsett, deals with the unplanned reunion in a shabby motel room of three high school friends ten years after their graduation. 

Each recalls differently an incident between two of them on a night late in their final year and it is these fractured memories that permanently shatter their friendships.

Vincent (Mark Diaco) is “a swarthy Italian-American” who works as a volunteer fire fighter and a small-time drug dealer. He stays at Motel 6 in Lansing, Michigan, so that he can support his high school best buddy, John (Justin Hosking), whose low budget film is showing in the Lansing Film Festival. John, who stays at the Radison, arrives at the seedy motel to find Vince in his boxers, scoffing beers, smoking dope and snorting cocaine.

Vince is prone to “unresolved violence” and is obsessed by discovering the truth about what happened ten years ago when John seduced Amy, Vince’s ex-girlfriend. Not only does Vince attempt to force a confession of rape from John, but he also invites Amy (Alexis Porter), who is now the Assistant District Attorney in town, and triggers a confrontation between all three.

Belber’s play deals not only with the unreliability of human memory and perception but also with the fragility of friendship, the fruitlessness of petty revenge and the desire to be “right”.

The cast of three is strong. Diaco captures Vince’s volatile, egotistical and confused behaviour, making him strangely attractive and boyish and allowing us to also have some sympathy for his bruised ego. Hosking initially keeps John playful but watchful as, ironically, he lectures Vince on how to live a moral life that serves the greater good. He rapidly slides into desperation and panic as Vince challenges him.

As Amy, Porter presents as a cheerful, sleek, well-heeled, middle-American blonde. Her brittle veneer cracks when Vince compels her to reveal details of her night with John all those years ago.

Belber’s dialogue is often well observed and he captures the confusion of these relationships. The videotaped scene from John and Vince’s high school days gives some insight into their relationship in the opening scene. The play, however, seems to miss its ending by introducing further footage, after the motel confrontation in concluded, of Amy’s ramblings as a teenager and John’s recent musings about his future.

By Kate Herbert

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