Friday, June 01, 2007

Never Swim Alone & This Is A Play Review

Saw a couple of really good short plays last night. Review below.

But alsotooaswell, I'm on a bit of a sleuth mission. There's a guy I met through another theatre critic acquaintance who I see at opening nights all the time. I have forgotten his name and we're in that funny situation of kind of recognising each other but not enough to really say hello. He comes across as very earnest, so it's kind of weird to see him at so many comedies. He sits through them not cracking a grin while everyone else is laughing their ears off.

I suspect I know who he writes for because a review a certain reviewer wrote recently was exactly the kind of earnest, I-only-appreciate-intellectual-humour review I'd expect this guy to have written. But I don't know if they are the same person. Somehow, I have to find out.

His review of this play will be out this weekend. It will be interesting to see if our reviews are polar opposites again. And then I have to get all gumshoe and find out if they are one and the same person.

Anyway, here's my review of last night's plays. Won't be in the mag for another week, which is a bummer. And 350 words is bloody frustrating, but that's all I'm allowed.


Few things give me as much pleasure as plays that make me gush with enthusiasm. I love writing reviews where I get to say things like you should go see it because I laughed so hard my bottom almost fell off. This is one such review.

Daniel MacIvor’s two short plays demonstrate why he’s apparently so popular in his home country of Canada. This is very funny theatre, very clever theatre (in that not-too-clever way), and all-round satisfying theatre. If you don’t enjoy these plays, stop going to the theatre immediately because you are clearly missing the point.

In This Is A Play three actors and their over-nourished egos hit the stage in a melodrama about three lettuces separated at birth. They are hyper-self-aware that they are Actors who are Acting In A Play before A Real Live Audience, with lines being the very stage direction they are (badly) acting out, as well as what should be their inner thoughts while delivering real lines. The actors go through the motions while all the time trying to upstage their fellow actors, and it’s a device both targeted at those involved in theatre as well as those of us who simply recognise a good piss-take. Direction and comic acting did justice to what is a pretty simple concept, and at 35 minutes MacIvor demonstrates that he knows not to give us too much of a good thing. Very funny.

Never Swim Alone is also good comedy, albeit a darker one. In examining the fierce rivalry between two lifelong “mates”, we go back in time to the seeds of their competitiveness to an event that clearly haunts them through their lives, but from which they have learned nothing. It’s a kick in the guts to male posturing and bravado that if anything could have been a little more brutal. After all, as silly as such characters as Bill and Frank are (unfortunately you will recognise them in the real world), the effect of their idiotic rivalry on those around them is pretty brutal. Still, this is gradually darkening comedy peppered with some quite evocative and poetic writing - and it felt so Australian that it’s hard to get your head around the fact that it’s an international creation. And Lotte St Clair’s presence would reduce a lesser reviewer to concluding a review by saying something immature like Lotte St Clair is, like, uber-babe.

At Darlinghurst Theatre until 23 June.


Kathryn said...

Am punched that I can't go see them! Disappointed big time. Great review you critic gumshoe. :)

Mel said...

But you could never be that immature to write that Lotte St Clair is an uber-babe... :)
Great reviews. Looking forward to gravitating towards a play or two once settled.

Quick said...

Thanks Kathryn. It really was a great double bill. Keep an eye out for it.

And no way Mel. As if I'd come over all school boy dribbly just because I was watching a really good actor who happened to be a total spunk. Gosh she was yum.