Thursday, 30 May 2002

The Lord of Misrule, May 30, 2002

By Sam Sejavka

 La Mama  at The Courthouse, May 30 until June 15, 2002

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Sam Sejavka's play, the Lord of Misrule, is a contemporary gothic parable about drug addiction and inner urban angst.

Sejavka employs his eccentric style yet again. It is a blend of futuristic sci-fi and the absurd. The play is successful in part.

There is violence, sexual perversion and drug references obviously. Any publicity could read like an ABC television rating warning.

 Sejavka is inclined to surprise us with flights of fancy, poetic interludes and mad collisions of the contemporary, the poetic, the mythic and the absurd. However, the play is probably an hour longer than it needs to be and could do with a rigorous editor.

Luther  (Anthony Johnston ) lives alone, tending his peculiar chemical experiment in a bottle and doping himself daily on the juices it exudes.

He is visited by his equally addicted friend, Sugar,  (Carmen Mascia)  who prostitutes herself to a thug called Theudas.  (Ben Grant )

Luther's new neighbour, Nira,  ( Jessamy Dyer) attempts to rescue Luther from his addiction only to become an addict herself. Complicated? Yes. And a little confusing.

The narrative begins with Luther as central character but takes an odd diversion into the increasingly addictive behaviour of his neighbour, Nira.

This resolves itself when she enters his life and tried to seduce him with insane combinations of food: frankfurts and custard for example.

Johnston is engaging as the manic, secretive Luther. Mascia brings warmth and sympathy to Sugar while Dyer is energetic yet relaxed as Nira; even when another actor missed her cue by several minutes.

Grant, unfortunately, works in such a state of tension he is uncomfortable to watch. He is contorted and overwrought, both vocally and physically.

Director, Christian Leavesley  emphasises a sense of menace on stage. The design (Phil Rolfe) is an interesting blend  of suburban kitchen, aeroplane galley and urinal wall.

Dramatic and vivid lighting by Nick Merrylees  and sound design (Nadav Rayman, Boyd Korab) create an eerie atmosphere. There is a grungey feel to this play and the space reflects student houses and druggy dives we have known.

The Lord of Misrule has merit as a piece of contemporary absurdism but it needs some clarification of its vision.

By Kate Herbert

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