REVIEW: Thorny Devil Theatre Presents OUT AT SEA

A difficult work doesn’t quite make waves

By Christine Moffat

Three strangers (Fat, Medium and Thin) are stranded on a raft together in the middle of the ocean.  They have run out of food, and it is decided that someone must be eaten, for the greater good.  Through the tense scenario of these castaways, the play explores the justifications and machinations that people employ to get what they want.

This is also a Mrozek play, and for those new to his work, there is a always social or political metaphor simmering underneath a darkly comic surrealist plot.  In Out At Sea, the key metaphor is the exploitation of the ‘little man’ (Thin) by those capable of controlling (Fat) and profiteering (Medium) within a communist society.

Sadly, in this reviewer’s opinion, on opening night the play did not meet its full potential, as it lacked the real sense of tension required to do the piece justice.  The stage was a raft suspended by wooden pallets above the concrete floor in the space; it was primitive and greatly evocative of the characters’ bleak situation.  However, it did not seem as if the players were trapped on the raft, and in general there was not enough of a feeling of confined space in the show.

The absence of tension was also in part due to the direction.  Each character too often sat comfortably on suitcases and trunks fashioned into stools, and there seemed to be far too many pregnant pauses.  Either of these factors alone can cause the energy drain from a performance.  The combination of them both in this production created a sense of slowness that the actors were unable to properly overcome.  That being said, the four actors individually created performances that were interesting and thoughtful, and that generated some good comic moments despite the pace of the play.

The play was staged at Revolt Art Space in Kensington.  This venue has a real retro-punk vibe, and is a surreal mixture of old warehouse and gold-mine theme park: an excellent choice for staging the work of an old school surrealist like Mrozek.  Overall, this is only the second production for Thorny Devil Theatre, and Mrozek is notoriously difficult both to direct and to perform.  I believe it bodes well that they are staging challenging pieces in interesting spaces, and I look forward to seeing more work from them in future.

Show information:

Sept 5 – Sept 15

Wed-Sat 7:30pm / Sun 6pm / Saturday Matinee (15/9 only) 3pm

Revolt Productions, 12 Elizabeth Street Kensington, 3031

Tickets: Full $22.50 / Conc. $17.50 / Preview & Matinee $12.50

Book online at revoltproductions.com or by phone on 03 9376 2115

Written by Slawomir Mrozek

Directed by Eben Rojter

Performed by Carli Jones, Katharine Innes, Jacob Pruden, and Stu Duffield

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