Tag Archives: Theatre 503

Her not Him – 3 Stars

Her not Him

Her not Him

Theatre 503

Reviewed – 30th January 2018

★★★

“the relationships all seemed forced and lacking the genuine intimacy to make them believable”

 

Girl meets girl in Joanne Fitzgerald’s Her Not Him, a romantic drama with a transvestite twist. Produced by Lughnacy Productions, this is the story of Bea, a woman who has grown bored of her younger lover, and her attraction to Jemima, a transvestite who gatecrashes her birthday party. Set to a salsa rhythm, the play tackles issues of gender, sexual attraction and maturity, it’s Fitzgerald’s debut full length play, enjoying a short week run at Theatre 503.

It’s a very promising start. The script is warm and witty, presenting its characters with affection and depth. The production has a clear agenda, but doesn’t get bogged down trying to make a grand statement. Jemima is who she is unapologetically with no need to defend or politicise her choices, and is a far stronger champion for gender equality and acceptance for it. Older woman Bea, faces the conundrums of a single woman reaching a certain age – she doesn’t want to be alone and she wants to have fun, the type of fun that is more easily shared with younger partners, who have yet to want what Bea has already put aside. Her relationship with Ellie is doomed from the outset, not by Ellie’s immaturity, but by Bea’s inability to accept her for who she is, either now or in the future.

Unfortunately, this production still feels unfinished. The cast all do a spirited job – John James gives a charming and naïve turn to the otherwise feisty Jemima, Leah Kirby is a lively, fun and slightly ridiculous Ellie while Orla Sanders stoical Bea keeps the show grounded – but the production lacks connection. They inhabit their own skins, but aren’t quite comfortable with each other yet. The direction does not help them. Amy Lawrence has given the play a lovely rhythm and the set choreography is impressive. But the effect is a little too clinical, highlighting the lack of emotion and the salsa section serves to tell the audience what we should be feeling, rather than heightening what we already are. It’s telling, not showing, too often; as a result the relationships all seemed forced and lacking the genuine intimacy to make them believable.

On the whole, I feel like I’ve seen this show prematurely. It still needs time to bed in, get comfy and enjoy its rough edges. Perhaps after a week, when it’s found its feet it will be on stronger ground. It certainly has all the right elements. It just needs the right chemistry.

 

Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com

 


Her not Him

Theatre 503 until 3rd February

 

 

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Review of The Dark Room – 5 Stars

Dark

The Dark Room

Theatre 503

Reviewed – 13th November 2017

★★★★★

“raises issues that are still prevalent today and are much closer to home”

 

There’s something sinister about quiet, shabby motel rooms. Something lonely, something that’s not quite right. They are the sort of places you may end up in when there are no options left. Angela Betzien’s work left me utterly heartbroken, her interweaving storylines reuniting to form a completely tragic story.


We meet three sets of characters: troubled, erratic and suicidal young Grace and her carer Anni, policeman Stephen with his pregnant wife Emma and lastly Stephen’s boss Craig who is joined by Joseph, a young man in a wedding dress. The production cleverly transitions between one group of characters and the next, never leaving the motel room. From the word go, everything moves very fast.

During the opening scene we are left desperately guessing why the young woman in front of us insists on wearing a bag over her head, yelling at her companion – and why does she hide a kitchen knife under the mattress? Has she been abducted? Is she safe?

Annabel Smith (Grace) truly encapsulates a young woman with many, many demons and a lot of internal suffering. From her emotional bitterness to her physical violence, Grace’s character is unpredictable and at times very frightening. Smith fills the audience with unease, we really don’t know where her mood will take us next.

Both Stephen (Tamlyn Henderson) and Craig (Alasdair Craig) move about the stage in a guilty, secretive bubble of awkwardness. Which one of them has done something unspeakable? Perhaps the ghost of the young man in the wedding dress has something to do with it.

The eerie lighting (Will Monks) added a touch of horror – I have lost count of the amount of scary movies that take place in similar hotels – and during the scenes where we are plunged into darkness, we can only speculate as to what awaits when the lights come up.

With a pleasingly shabby motel set by Jemima Robinson and smooth direction from Audrey Sheffield, The Dark Room is a thrilling eye-opener. It may be based on Australia’s shadowy history of ill treatment of its own society’s most vulnerable, but it raises issues that are still prevalent today and are much closer to home .

Reviewed by Stephanie Legg

Photography by Alex Brenner

 

 

THE DARK ROOM

is at Theatre 503 until 2nd December

 

 

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