Monday, 1 August 2016
Trevor, July 29, 2016 ****
THEATREBy Nick Jones, by Red Stitch Actors Theatre
Red Stitch, until Aug 26, 2016
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also published in Herald Sun Arts online on Mon Aug 1, 2016 & later in print. KH
If you think a bloke playing a primate could not be funny and poignant, think again, because Rory Kelly’s portrayal of Trevor, the former television star chimpanzee, is hilarious, moving and dangerous.
Nick Jones’ play depicts Trevor as a deluded, Hollywood, has-been actor who lives with his trainer/owner Sandra (Andrea Swifte) and is nostalgic for the glory days when he featured in TV commercials with 80’s glamazon, Morgan Fairchild (Angela Kennedy).
Trevor, now a strong, adult male, is bored without his TV career, frustrated by his inability to communicate effectively with Sandra, and confused by her garbled language that sounds to him like gibberish occasionally peppered with words he can recognise.
Denis Moore directs this impressive, dynamic production with wit and assurance and Kelly’s performance as Trevor is inspired, audacious, impeccably timed, physically adroit and very, very funny.
Kelly is charismatic as Trevor, playing him as an arrogant, bratty adolescent with simian characteristics who, despite his warmth and humour, has a volatile temper and displays an escalating belligerence that could ultimately turn to violence.
Trevor is adorable which helps explain why Sandra insists to Ashley (Eva Seymour), her anxious young neighbour, that Trevor is no threat to Ashley or her baby, despite Trevor’s unpredictable outbursts and habit of pinching Sandra’s car keys to drive her Corvette.
Jones’ fast-paced play constantly surprises with its narrative twists and emotional rollercoaster that sees Kelly as Trevor bouncing from couch-potato depression to wacky mania or demonstrations of his roller-skating talents and wardrobe of costumes.
Swifte’s motherly Sandra is a perfect counterpoint to Trevor’s hysteria and, as the stakes heighten, Swifte’s character progressively and almost imperceptibly loses her cool until the situation careers out of her control.
Kennedy is a highlight as blonde bombshell, Morgan Fairchild, embodying the vanity and sassiness of the slightly faded, iconic star.
The rest of this talented ensemble includes Dion Mills who is a riot as Oliver, Trevor’s pompous, wildly successful, almost human chimp friend, and the gently amusing Andrew Gilbert as Jim, the mild-mannered and bemused local copper who tries to help Sandra.
As Jerry, the animal controller who Trevor mistakes for a Hollywood producer, Kevin Hofbauer balances timidity with the bravado of a petty bureaucrat, while Seymour is suitably insistent and confronting as Ashley, the protective mother.
This production is rollicking entertainment that also reveals darker, riskier themes on its helter skelter journey that threatens to fulfil all our fears for Trevor and his companions.
By Kate Herbert
By Kate Herbert