Saturday, 15 September 2007

Hotel Obsino by Adam Broinowski, Sep 15, 2007

 Hotel Obsino by Adam Broinowski
 La Mama, Carlton,  Sept 15 to 30, 2007

Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sept 15, 2007

 Adam Broinowski’s play, Hotel Obsino, depicts a halfway house inhabited by a group of disturbed individuals who are variously substance abusers, mentally ill, felons or all of the above.

The play is based on Broinowski’s experience staying in such a place and the grittiness of some of the dialogue is testament to his intimate observations of its residents. The scenes that are most successful are those that involve small groups of addled persons sharing their paranoid fantasies.

Less effective is the occasional appearance of nightmarish full-face masks. Although they might be intended to represent the delusions and dark thoughts of the residents the masks are not incorporated into the narrative adequately and do not illuminate the psychological landscape.

Noah (Tom Davies), who seems to be the alter ego of Broinowski, arrives to spend a week in the dilapidated boarding house. His first contact is with the very funny and voluble Indian doorkeeper (Polash Larsen) who is the only moderately sane human he will meet for some time.

Gold (Brendan Bacon) the junkie thief teaches neophyte Noah to fight and initiates him into the secrets of heroin. Bacon is convincing as Gold, His accent is pure Preston-Lebanese. And he vibrates with barely contained and dangerous energy.

Felix (Tahir Cambis) is an alcoholic who cleans the house. Fabio (Erick Mitsak) obsesses over demons, angels and sex. Dave (Dylan Lloyd) is a paranoid, bisexual Nazi and Lloyd depicts him as a frighteningly unpredictable and potentially violent criminal. The scenes in which he corners Noah in his room talking of Fascists, murder and prison are
genuinely nerve-wracking.

Doug (Craig Hedger) rants on street corners about Christianity and redemption, Noodles (Le Roy Parsons) wanders silently amongst them and the only woman in the house (Melanie Douglas) makes a fleeting if startling

The performances are uneven as is the production. The play, however, certainly compels us to consider the predicament of the homeless, the mentally ill and the abandoned who live thrown together on the fringes of our society. We make them invisible by choosing to ignore or avoid them on the streets. Their distressing living conditions and even more distressing
minds make one happy to be simply mentally competent.

By Kate Herbert

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