Friday, 10 August 2007

Holiday by Raimondo Cortese, Aug 8, 2007 *****

 Holiday by Raimondo Cortese
Ranters Theatre 
North Melbourne Town Hall, Tues to Sat 7.30pm until Aug 8 to 22, 2007
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Aug 8, 2007

In Raimondo Cortese’s new play, Holiday, two men (Patrick Moffatt, Paul Lum) appear inside a starkly lit white box (lighting - Niklas Pajanti, design - Anna Tregloan). 

They seem unwitting specimens in an over-sized display cabinet as they chat casually and comfortably about innocuous subjects. We observe them as they explore their leisure; they stand looking relaxed, perch on swivel stools, lounge on a chaise or splash in the wading pool in the centre of their white room.

There is no linear narrative to their interactions; they quietly share their musings on a list of unrelated topics as if engaged in a mutual stream of consciousness. Intermittently, one spontaneously sings an Italian Baroque love song. Every move is concentrated on finding a further state of relaxation. Their interaction has no conventional dramatic tension, nor does it need it. There is no conflict, no demands or aggressive challenges, just simple acceptance or questioning of the other’s ideas and attentive and restful listening.

Their conversation is like a prolonged jazz improvisation of ideas, a stroll through random thoughts, memories, theories and hopes. For us it is a 90-minute meditation, an escape from pressures outside the box in the real world where we are pushed to our limits.

Cortese’s writing seems to have developed out of the actors’ improvisations; their absolute ease as they ruminate together feels completely unrehearsed and totally natural. Moffatt and Lum are charming and engaging, their dreamy manner allowing us to observe them with impunity and to witness every idiosyncrasy.

Director, Adriano Cortese, keeps the pace rhythmic and slow without stalling. There are long silences as we and they cogitate; we absorb their stories, consider our own and wait for them to surprise us with another non sequitur.

They talk about holidays: being at the beach, trekking in the Himalayan mountains, visiting Thailand. But their abstracted thoughts wander to unexpected places. Moffatt tells how liberating it is to confess one’s sins in a Catholic confessional and recalls selling a garish tie to an unhappily married woman. Lum remembers driving for hours with a woman he met by chance many years after he kissed her and talks about his dream about flying a Messer Schmidt.

Holiday is a happy, happy time in the theatre. We leave quietly delighted and at rest after our experience with these two amiable men.

By Kate Herbert

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