Tag Archives: The Depot Theatre

Sex Object

24 Apr

This is new work, but I’m not the audience for it.

It’s for those who enjoy TV sitcom.

Writer Charlie Falkner has put together three hyperbolic characters; a pretentious artist, a vacuous New Ager (who the other characters also call pretentious), and an inarticulate slacker. Falkner then throws in a fourth, an escort, to stir the plot.

There are some funny lines and energetic performances, but it’s of that genre only too common in the indie scene – Philistine Theatre.

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Philistine Theatre has bad faith in the art form. It attempts to imitate the conventions of television or B grade film. Philistine Theatre claims its purpose is to simply entertain but, in aiming so low, it undermines its very reason for existence.

This play is a descendant of American slacker films. In these films, the protagonist fights for the right to smoke dope on his mother’s couch. In this version, the protagonist fights for the right to watch porn on his girlfriend’s dead father’s couch. As you can see, the genre has come a long way.

But seriously, Falkner does subvert the ending typical of this style of drama. In the films, it’s usually painful: the protagonist ‘grows up’ and becomes ‘responsible’, which could be interesting, if it weren’t for the fact that ‘responsible’ seems indistinguishable from ‘conventional’. However, Sex Object doesn’t go in for that sort of tripe; its ending is more like Porky’s. (An allusion that shows I’m far too familiar with C grade American films.)

The slacker, played amusingly by Falkner himself, has a porn addiction. This is not taken seriously by the script, which is not aiming to be anything but a light comedy. However, it’s as close as the audience gets to the sex implied in the title.

The marketing of the show suggests it’s an exploration of ‘millennials’, that category error pushed by other marketers when trying to sell mobile phones. Fortunately, Falkner knows the type of play he’s writing and doesn’t attempt any faux sociological analysis.

In fact, the program notes suggest the play says nothing (which is a fundamental tenet of Philistine Theatre.) But, of course, it does say something. The target of the play is what it calls ‘pretence’. It fights for the right to be small.

No, it may not have been my cup of tea, but as Voltaire could’ve said (if he’d indulged in such quaint euphemisms) I’ll fight for your right to drink it.

Congratulations to Jack Rabbit Theatre for producing new work and for the Depot for making it possible.

Paul Gilchrist

 

Sex Object by Charlie Falkner

Directed by Michael Abercromby

Presented by Jack Rabbit Theatre

at The Depot Theatre until 29 April

Tix and info here

 

Let’s Talk About You

21 Nov

‘I contain multitudes’ sang Walt Whitman.

Let’s Talk About You is a distillation of this idea.  Elaine Hudson and Anne Tenney portray different parts of the same person. I could simplify even more, and suggest Tenney plays the grander parts of the soul and Hudson plays the lesser. (This degree of distillation can be either potent or unpalatable, depending on how much you’ve already drunk.) Taylor Owynns plays the generous spirited friend attempting to make sense of her conflicted companion. All three actors give astounding performances, physically engaging, and vocally delicious.

Rivka Hartman’s script is full of sparkling one-liners. Is the divided self conceit just a device for making jokes, or is it an exploration of the human experience? This is light comedy. But though there are plenty of froth and bubbles, lurking below, in the back stories, are some rather frightening (male) sharks.

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Photo by Vicki Skarrat

The play is a paean to self-reflection. Like Socrates, I believe an unexamined life is not worth living; but I do feel it should be a take-home exam. Much of the play’s fun comes from the fact that the divided character’s very necessary self-examination is being practiced at exactly the wrong time. It’s difficult to have two conversations at once, and to be good in company, you must first learn to talk to yourself.

Paul Gilchrist

Let’s Talk About You by Rivka Hartman

The Depot Theatre til 26 Nov

Tix and more info here

Through a Beaded Lash

1 Dec

Four funerals and a wedding.

Well, not exactly. There are no funerals (on stage). There is a wedding (slightly off stage).

But, despite the humour, the atmosphere is thick with loss.

Robert Allan’s deeply moving play is about the struggle between the acknowledgement of grief and the quest for growth.

With two concurrent time periods, the play is a cleverly structured dialogue between the past and the present.

In the past, we follow the developing relationship between Brent and Adam. Brent (Ryan Henry) performs as a drag queen. With the help of effervescent Zoe (Emily McGowan) and crotchety but lovable Phil (Roger Smith), Brent raises money for those battling the newly recognized Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. A charming bumbler, Adam (Oliver Rynn), arrives. The attraction is obvious, but he’s out of his depth. There’s a war going on, and Adam – like so many of the population – has not caught up with the reality.

photo Clare Hawley

Photo by Clare Hawley

In the present, we follow Adam and Zoe twenty odd years on. Played engagingly by Cherilyn Price and Leo Domigan, their friendship has survived, but beyond the fun banter, there’s real tension.

Clever direction by Julie Baz highlights both the continuities and discontinuities between the two time periods and so brings to the fore the fundamental question of the piece: What is, What should be, What can be, our relationship with the past?

Both funny and touching, Through a Beaded Lash is a powerful call both to remember the dead and to remember to live.

And it’s a new play and I congratulate The Depot on that.

I began with a glib reference. Four funerals……..

In the 80’s, 90’s and today, here and worldwide, if only the toll was so low.

It’s more like forty million.

 

Veronica Kaye

Through a Beaded Lash By Robert Allan

The Depot Theatre til 12 Dec

Tix and info here