Friday, 13 April 2012

Unpack This! by Geoff Paine, April 12, 2012 ****

Chapel off Chapel until April 29, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert n April 12, 2012

 It’s amazing how hilarious angry men can be in this clever, funny play.

 Syd Brisbane, Michelle Nussey, Ross Daniels, Geoff Paine in Unpack This!

UNPACK THIS! IS A CLEVERLY WRITTEN COMEDY with witty, well-observed dialogue and multiple comic characters performed skilfully by a talented cast.

Geoff Paine’s funny script is about his own experience as a participant in a court-ordered, Anger Management Course after he head-butted a troublesome, noisy neighbour. (Don’t we all want to do that sometimes?)

Of course, one day is an absurdly short time to change the behaviour of six men, and years of running the course is too long for Trevor, (Syd Brisbane) the harried, angry social worker who leads the course with his youthful assistant, Lorraine (Michelle Nussey).

Paine plays three angry men: himself, Nguyen the chauvinist, and Nicholas the tough Bogan who struggles to understand how to be a man without aggression.

Ross Daniels plays the multiple roles of: Brian the quiet guy who confronted his partner with her affair, Bogdan the hilariously inarticulate addict, and Reg, the 71 year old who lashed out at provocative neighbours once only ("I've got socks that are older than you!").

Paine and Daniels change characters rapidly with subtle shifts in physicality, attitude, expression and voice.

Their comic timing and delivery are impeccable, the hilarious characterisations are credible, and the pace and rhythm, comedy and drama of the show are cunningly balanced.

Brisbane captures the patronising jargon, passive-aggressive behaviour, frustration and despair of Trevor, while Nussey is a gentle foil as Lorraine who still has ideals and dreams of changing the men.

Unpack This! is not just another standard comedy show, but rather a comic play that delivers laughs through its characterisations, narrative and social observations.

By Kate Herbert

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