Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Gift, Joanna Murray-Smith, MTC, June 7, 2011

The Gift, Melbourne Theatre Company ***
  • Kate Herbert
  • From: Herald Sun
  • June 07, 2011 12:00AM

THE GIFT, by Joanna Murray-Smith, Melbourne Theatre Company, until July 9,  2011

JOANNA Murray-Smith's play, The Gift (directed by Maria Aitken) is riddled with witty dialogue about the trials of the nouveau riche who drink chateau expensive.

And then there's the middle-class artists and intellectuals who engage in esoteric endeavours and circuitous conversations.
Ed (Richard Piper) and Sadie (Heather Bolton) -- a childless, middle-aged couple -- are wealthy, ordinary and unimaginative. At a deluxe resort, they meet Martin (Matt Dyktynski), a struggling conceptual artist, and his adoring, academic wife Chloe (Elizabeth Debicki).

Both couples are emotionally disengaged and, despite obvious differences, an unlikely friendship develops.

When Martin saves Ed from drowning, their lives change forever and Ed wants to repay Martin. When Chloe and Martin reveal their outrageous choice of gift, Ed and Sadie are appalled and scars appear in the friendship.

Piper is a gruff, comical, blokey Ed; Bolton vulnerable as dutiful long-suffering Sadie; Dibecki is coltish as Chloe; Dyktynski is cool as ambitious Martin.

However, the characters feel incomplete and the ending is unsatisfying.

When the couples confront the controversial dilemma that threatens friendship and challenges values, the emotional temperature should soar but we are oddly unmoved.

Star rating: * * *

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