Thursday, 12 February 2009

Friday Night, In Town, Feb 12, 2009 ***1/2

Friday Night, In Town by Kieran Carroll, La Mama
Carlton Courthouse, La Mama, Feb 11 to  Feb 21, 2009
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Feb 12, 2009
Stars: ***1/2

If you peered into a home, a bar or a laneway on a Friday night in Melbourne, you might witness scenes such as those in Kieran Carroll’s Friday Night, In Town. The play is a patchwork made up of multiple stories, each with discrete and separate characters. All of the relationships and stories have merit as snapshots of people in the city although some are more effective or absorbing than others.

The most compelling theatrical element of the entire evening is a monologue performed with passion and sensitivity by Jeremy Kewley at the end of the second half. Our interest is piqued when his agitated character walks into an inner city bar then downs a beer, a whisky and a vodka chaser in quick succession. We are captivated by the story he tells about his confrontation with his womanising friend, and his revelations about his teenage daughter are chilling.

There is an edge of danger and suspense in the tale of a Brighton boy (Alex Marriott) who finds himself trapped on a bar stool between a sneering, tattooed petty crim (John King) and his giggling and drunk girlfriend (Alison Bennett).

While waiting for a cancelled train (sound familiar?), an elderly man (Lex Ross) meets an anxious young woman (Kristy Barnes-Cullen). There is a melancholy charm in this story as they strike up an unusual friendship that is healing to both.

The other stories involve a couple of builders chatting up two birds in a pub before a footy match, a drunk Russian woman swilling merlot and her lonely, divorced neighbour and a man and woman who both love the same man.

It is rare to see 16 actors on stage anywhere other than a major theatre company. Director, Noel Anderson, keeps most actors onstage throughout the two hours that sometimes provides depth to the space and volume to the vocal quality. However often, the stage simply looks crowded for no reason.

The scene changes are slow, the languorous pace of the show needs variation and the acting is inconsistent with a few highlights. But this collection of city stories is strangely fascinating.

By Kate Herbert

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