AU ABROAD

Theatre Review: Ride & Fourplay - Darlinghurst Theatre, Sydney (Performance until October 4)

Tom O'Sullivan, Gabrielle Scawthorn, Aaron Glenane and Emma Palmer. Photo: Rober

One-act plays can often present a blessing or a curse. When done well, they can be concise, pacey and poignant, and a one-act can present an idea in a setting that’s best for it. Ride & Fourplay are two one act plays written by Sydney playwright Jane Bodi, with both stories focusing on love – particularly ideas of new love – and they tackle the theme from different angles.

Ride begins with a couple waking after a drunken one-night stand and attempting to piece together the lost remnants of the night before. The unnamed female (Emma Palmer) tries to work out how she got to a man’s house in Tempe if she was out in the Cross, while he (Tom O’Sullivan) insists he was out in Newtown all night. The couple pushes through an awkward morning after experience, which ends up continuing into the next evening. They get along, but they don’t seem to connect quite enough on stage to see a real spark. Rather than see a potential relationship stem from two unlikely companions making the most of a compromising situation, we’re left with two people seeming to pass the time, though not in a way that’s fearful enough for them to be avoiding going back to their own normalcy. While an intriguing setting, with excellent performances from both, it is probably just a little too long for a one-act, and could end at various points in the script.

Fourplay on the other hand, grabs for attention quickly, with a sharp and funny story of a relationship shift. Alice (Gabrielle Scawthorn) is a former actor living with Tom (Tom O’Sullivan), who’s about to open a new play. His co-star Natasha (Emma Palmer) is coming on hard during rehearsals, and he’s at a cross roads while his relationship begins to crumble at home. Meanwhile, Alice begins to befriend her odd coworker Jack (Aaron Glenane), and open up to a new life without the stage. The actors perform their dialogue to the audience rather than to each other, with all four on stage simultaneously, and this heightens the dramatic elements to effect. They’re all being watched in some way, while lost in their private worlds, even when communicating with another person.

Glenane steals the show as the awkward Jack, while Scawthorn is excellently vulnerable and searching in portrayal of Alice. O’Sullivan and Palmer also shine brightly in an ensemble setting with a strong script and great direction from Anthony Skuse. The set is bare, save for a large angled platform which gives the cast a great use of levels and space to play with, creating a sort of subconscious and fluid hierarchy throughout. It’s great to see Sydney represented on stage in an authentic way.

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Ride & Fourplay will be performed at the Darlinghurst Theatre Company in Sydney until October 4th. For tickets and more details head to: http://www.darlinghursttheatre.com/whats-on/ride-and-fourplay