Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Reviews: Writing Angus, Searching for David


Andrew decides to write a play in order to get over this ex-boyfriend who broke his heart. I know, I know, it’s one step away from writing poetry to express your pain at how your parents don’t really listen to you or let you go out on school nights. But let’s give our Andrew a chance. He begins writing a play about Angus who is clearly an ego-projection of himself and following the ‘write what you know’ dictum ends up penning a piece that is entirely based around ‘Angus’ inability to get over this boyfriend who broke his heart. I don’t think Andrew’s gunning for any Green Room awards or anything.

Anyway, it turns out that ‘Angus’ doesn’t really want to carry all of this baggage and so he becomes a character in search of a better author or at least a way to get over that terrible breakup (since Andrew clearly doesn’t want to move on but just keeps harping on about it). Woah! Self-aware characters debating the nature of their existence with their creators? Shit just got real, folks.

It would take longer to tease out the various complications and repetitions of Writing Angus than is really warranted here. It’s not the best show, but it’s of modest ambition (will Andrew get over his ex? is really the only question being asked). There’s a very youthful vibe to the affair which means that the lack of polish demonstrated by some of the performers is made up for by a lot of energy. The exception is Jack Angwin as Andrew, whom I saw in last year’s Short & Sweet and have been pretty impressed by. He’s got a good range and is worth watching.

Daniel Lammin wrote and directed the piece and it shows – it’s about half an hour longer than the premise warrants and could do with some serious dramaturgy. If we’re going to care about playwright Andrew’s deep emotional struggle for more than an hour and a half, we’re going to need playwright Daniel to write some really, really convincing drama. Sometimes he gets close: the scene where Angus and his ex go and have fish and chips on the beach is pretty good, and the bits where he gets hit by a Frisbee were cute enough without having to watch the character and author step back to discuss the writing convention of the meet cute. But then again, on closing night the audience was largely composed of people who couldn’t have been out of their teens, and the house was packed. They really seemed to enjoy it, which goes to show that even if you’ve seen something done often and better elsewhere, there will always be people who have yet to discover it for themselves the first time around.

At La Mama. Season ended.


By Out Cast Theatre.

Another show with writer/director issues is Steve Dawson’s latest. Dawson has been on the scene for years and has a strong reputation for producing Midsumma comedies that announce their intent in bold typeface: Big Dicks on Stage, Adventures of Butt Boy and Tigger, Four Queens in Hawaiian Shirts. I’m not sure why he decided to venture into strange new territory by writing a play about Michelangelo’s creation of David, and I’m not sure it works. Like Writing Angus, it’s a pretty modest little piece that’s entertaining enough. It’s hamstrung by some odd choices, however: foremost is the language, which is for the most part that kind of stilted “old timey” talk you get whenever somebody sets a scene before 1900. It’s like how in cinema anyone of any race speaking outside of a contemporary milieu does so with a British accent. I don’t know why ancient Egyptians, Arthurian knights and evil alien sorcerers are all supposed to have adopted the Queen’s English as a universal standard. But there you go. In Searching for David, this banter is occasionally interrupted by odd anachronisms, such as when a character compares something to a smashed crab, which is a particularly Australian colloquialism. 

But if you get past stuff like that (which isn’t hard), and the fairly stiff performances all round, this is a reasonably diverting number. I really liked the set and there were a few jokes that drew a chuckle. There ya go.

Mechanic’s Institute Performing Arts Centre, until Feb 13.

No comments: