Presented by Old 505 Theatre Co. & Feat in Space Theatre Co.
Written by Gareth Ellis
Directed by: Amanda Falson (Receivers) and Gareth Ellis ( The Piano Thief)
Performed by Mark Tregonning, Tom Milton, Mathew Young, Eva Torkkola and Sophie Kelly
Synopsis- An absurd, dark, sci-fi comedy, Receivers explores the world of idealistic farmer Hedrick who, after years at agricultural school, simply cannot make things grow. In a final attempt to save his property from ruin he stumbles into a world populated with a prostitute, a General, a television repair man, an unforgiving computer… and Hillary. Or does he? Welcome to Latin 4 space platform.
Review- Playwright Gareth Ellis has penned two absurdist pieces of theatre with characters who are easy to laugh with and at. What goes on in the mind of Ellis one can only imagine as we witnessed two densely short plays that took us on a journey of craziness and comedy.
The double bill started off with The Piano Thief, directed by Ellis himself. Ellis cast well for his characters Dave (Tom Milton) and Mitchell (Mark Tregonning) both actors performing with clarity and impeccable comedic timing in a piece that is both sporadic and bizarre in content. Milton who also performers in Receivers showcased his craft beautifully. An actor with a fine toolkit to rely on Milton gave a grounded and humourous performance throughout. A crowd favourite scoring earned laughs. Tregonning also gave a solid performance as the air-headed partner in crime Mitchell. Tregonning gave an expressionistic performance that reflected true context towards the character he was playing. Eva Torkkola who played quirky Jenny also brought her character to life with vigour, her generosity in performance was well accepted by her audience. Torkkola gave commendable performances in both shows, she also played clinically disturbed patient Hillary that engaged and enticed her audience to further dive into the absurdity of the worlds these characters live in. She also brought physical qualities to both of her characters that were interesting and evolving. Ellis’ directing was towards his actors with very limited props in use for the entirety of The Piano Thief which was favourable to witness. The use of projections is used through both productions, in The Piano Thief it did not hold much weight or purpose to the story as the images were so dark you couldn’t see them very clearly. A punchy short first half then kicked on with Receiver in the second part of the show.
Receiver, is like watching random brain activity and thought spuing from five vastly amusing and highly perplexing characters. Sophie Kelly plays a bossy prostitute in her stride making her performance laid back and nonchalant. Kelly is a natural performer with comedian attributes that made her easy to watch and her character likeable and fun. Matthew Young played farmer Hedrick, Young though comfortable on stage as a performer he tended to over act through out the entire play. His choice of physical response to circumstances that surrounded him were over the top and strained. Young struggled to nail the comedy in the text with little diversity in his performance for a character whom is complex in nature. Director Amanda Falson had her work cut out for her with this piece by Ellis which is chock-a-block full of absurdity. Falson had a cast who pulled off the play rather well with Tregonning, and Milton also playing a few characters through-out the piece with good comedic abilities that held the audience’s attention through the unfolding chaos as the story unfolded.
This is a night out for theatre-goers who love to be entertained by silliness and chaos. Ellis has written with smarts, cultural relevance and sensibilities. The set wasn’t as versatile as it could be; projections at times awkward or difficult to engage with, but overall an entertaining double-bill.