Today I went to see this intriguing and funny French play by Yasmina Reza (translation by Christopher Hampton) for their matinee'.
Elliot McCann brings just as much energy and attention to his directing as he does to his exceptional acting – and it would take an exceptional director to convincingly bring what must be a difficult play to put on - containing as it does 3 different versions of the same disastrous evening.
You would think the audience would become bored but no, far from it as each character suddenly flowers into a multitude of possibilities, chaos theory style.
Seeing as two of the characters, Henri and Hubert are astrophysicists the idea of perhaps parallel worlds, each one subtly different, is intriguing – a sort of what might have been if such and such had happened – is quite in keeping.
This isn't done so much in a Rashomon sort of way so much as alternative foci on each character, little stressors and changes of speech and situation and manner (it's not the same script for each version of the evening) that radically change the tone, mood and outcome of the evening. It's a lot more subtle and compelling than a simple Sliding Doors or Groundhog Day approach.
It's also not a Theatre Sports style “play it this time as a tragedy” crassness of change – it's a dynamic shift of the characters' attitudes and the way they see themselves and each other. It really is very intriguing and must have been a really challenging play for the luminaries of the stage we are blessed with in this production.
It was just about a full house when we went to the matinee' today and it well deserves to be.
The play is set in Henri – the ever versatile Adrian Wood, and Sonia's – the staunch Lisa Skrypichayko, flat (with a brief excursion outside for a critical conversation by the couple who are about to visit – 24 hours too early) in Paris. They've just put their 6 year old son to bed whose sporadic tired whining and crying were perfectly timed by the bio box maestros Molly and Lewis Johnson throughout the play. . Most convincing and the characters immediate and often pained response to the oov character was echoed by the audience's sympathetic laughter – a lot of parents there today.
Suddenly, the doorbell rings and Henri's boss Hubert the redoubtable Eddie Stowers and his wife Ines the intense Jen O'Meara arrive 24 hours early. No food in the house except chocolate fingers and Wotzits. And a tin of sardines...and a lot of wine. Bad news for Henri as well, and some sexual questions too. Recipe for disaster!
Can the evening be salvaged? Sometimes yes, sometimes no but it's in the getting there that most is revealed about these people who are played in a very real, naturalistic way. The way they portray it though is never boring!
I didn't notice a single miscue by any one – or a flubbed line – this is one of the most polished performances I've seen. Considering the similarity of the 3 renditions, this is astonishing. Each act was lit simply but with a much different emphasis on colour, so it was very clear that we were looking at a re-set. Heh heh heh.
This play must be a challenge for an actor – to keep essentially the same characters and have them be recognisable as the same person, but having come through a different set of circumstances. It was really interesting to see these spirited performers tease out these differences with strength and sensitivity.
Pamela Smith and Emily Rowe's capable hands made sure of a great set, stage and props.
Super production all around and highly recommended. The full colour (!) A4 program is well worth the 2 dollar donation.
This production has shows on the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th of August at the Old Mill Theatre in South Perth. It's a 90 minute play with a 20 minute intermission after the first half hour and starts at 8.00.
9 out of 10 great fun, and Rashomon played for laughs on the Sid and Nancy Scale.