REVIEW: True Love Travels on a Gravel Road

Exciting new theatre is right on track

By Christine Moffat

True Love Travels On A Gravel Road is billed as a comedy-drama, but this interesting new work leans more towards a modernised tragic-farce romance.  This is by no means a bad thing.The play was entertaining, funny and surprisingly moving.

True Love Travels - Photos by Sophie Dewhirst and Glenn van Oosterom

The key to this work succeeding (and it does) is the skilful collaboration of writer Jane Miller and director Beng Oh.  With the assistance of a very capable cast, they have created a world where the characters can exist and be real.  These characters rely heavily on classical theatre archetypes and as a result are all slightly larger than life, leading to many comic moments.  Interestingly though, they are also well-drawn human beings, especially demonstrated through the use of everyday dialogue which on the whole made them very relatable. The set (by Christina Logan-Bell) is a stylised, neutral-coloured corrugated iron shed, allowing the location to be anywhere at any time.  This clever device results in some great plot reveals that could have been pre-empted if the set had given too much away.

The stand-out performances on opening night were by Elizabeth McColl (Glenda), David Kambouris (Richard) and Glenn van Oosterom (Jake).  All of these actors pushed the scope of their performances to the outer edge of realism, but their risk paid off with three of the most affecting characters in both the comic and dramatic moments.  That being said, all performances were strong.  The entire ensemble filled the piece with energy and emotion, and the audience responded positively to every character.

Unfortunately this reviewer feels that by inserting an interval at a critical point in the action the sense of tension was lost, and it took time to regain that atmosphere once the show recommenced.  The play is roughly standard length (90 minutes), and modern audiences are well accustomed to sitting through an entire performance without interval.  The production is compelling enough to risk removing the interval to keep its pace, for overall, True Love Travels on a Gravel Road is inventive and fresh, and a great blend of comedy and pathos.

Venue: fortyfive downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Season dates: 17 May to 2 June 2013

Show times: Tues – Sat 8pm, Sun 5pm

Tickets: $37 Full, $30 Conc, $33 Group 6+

Bookings:      03 9662 9966

                        www.fortyfivedownstairs.com

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