Friday, March 04, 2011

The Revengers' Comedy Review


Written by former Age theatre critic Leonard Radic and directed by Stefan Mrowinski, The Revengers' Comedy is interesting for a number reasons.

The the plot basically follows the breakdown of two middle-aged, middle class relationships. Max (Martin Mulvany) is bitter after being sacked from his job as a book publisher and is attracted to younger, former colleague Mallory (Jenita Spirtovic) in an unrequited way, all creating friction between he and his materialistic wife Helen (Lesley Harris). Meanwhile Robert (Steven Kennedy) has grown bored with his wife Jane (Renee Palmer) and is in the throes of leaving her for younger woman Polly (Beth Litson).

Billed as a black comedy, the story examines relationships without really coming up with anything new. These are pretty stock-standard characters caught up in all too familiar situations – which would be fine if the comedy was, well, a bit funnier. It has it's moments but also misfires a bit too often. Having said that, the title seems to allude to either Thomas Middleton's The Revengers' Tragedy or Alan Ayckbourn's The Revengers' Comedies, works I am not very familiar with so perhaps there are layers or references I didn't appreciate. The characters were uneven, often switching mood too suddenly and just not quite fitting together even in their fragmenting lives the way they need to to be fully convincing. It felt to me like a script that could benefit from a little more work.

As for the acting, sorry to say but two members of the cast appeared to be well beneath the task. It's early in the season so we can only hope they improve. They really need to because the other four actors are very good.

When Kennedy, Liston, Palmer and Spirtovic took to the stage there was real chemistry and energy. All had their moments to shine, all were clearly immersed in their roles and in lesser hands I'm not sure this play would have been as enjoyable as it ultimately was. I still found some facets of their characters sometimes a little unconvincing but by then was engaged enough by the overall dynamics of their relationships to let this slide and simply sit back and enjoy.

Set design was minimal, something that always puts the script and acting under a harsher light, and that being the case the script needs to sing and the cast needs to be rock solid. A good local production worth checking out, flaws and all.

At La Mama Courthouse, Carlton until 20 March


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