Briefly ~ theatre notes

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


This week has been a dead loss as far as what's loosely called "my life" is concerned. The phone's been running hot with talkback radio calls and bizarre inquiries from journalists ("Does Cate Blanchett own a Bill Henson?"), while I am desperately attempting to get to my dining room table, where the alarmingly fat US copy-edit of The Singing is demanding my attention. (Author copies of the Australian edition just arrived this moment - a short pause for champagne - it's been a long road!)

So I haven't had any time to write the reviews I planned of Hoy Polloy's production of How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found, and of Two Blue Cherries' gorgeous production of Three Dog Night, in which I was planning to discourse thoughtfully about plays (these days known as "text-based theatre"). And I'm still not sure if I can get there. The Australian ran a short review on Monday of How To Disappear Completely, which will have to do for now, and Three Dog Night has just closed after a deservedly successful season which I hope some of you caught. I'll try to blog them - both these productions deserve attention - but no promises.


Anonymous said...

Your review of "How to Disappear Completely" in the Australian suggests that it was an excellent play that was somewhat imperfectly realized in the presentation. However I had some reservations about the play itself as well. For example, for a play that apparently meant to explore interesting psychological and related issues involved in dropping out of sight and attempting to forge a new identity, I thought it was unfortunate that it used a case where someone disappears when he is about to be prosecuted for embezzlement. That's too familiar a scenario ("hey, we all know that people disappear to avoid prosecution/jail and try to fake new identities, that's what Tony Mokbel did"). That all-too-familiar scenario gives the central character a too obvious and familiar motivationn for doing a runner--it's not that interesting to be told that people fake new identities to stay out of jail. It diverts attention from the more complex and interesting motivations and psychology of people dropping out, perhaps for no obvious or overt reason, involving some dissatisfaction with the life/identity that they have developed, and attempting to achieve something more fulfilling by forging a new life/identity. Of course the play did try to focus on some of those more interesting and less obvious issues too but I thought it let itself be diverted from that focus when it didn't need to be.
I also thought that the play's account of the main character's lack of success in leading his "new" life with his "new" identity, resulting in his unfortunate demise, was a little too sketchy and thin, and perhaps could have been more fully developed to give us a better sense of why it didn't work and what went wrong.

Alison Croggon said...

Thanks NTG - I gather Charlie is the typical profile of the most common "missing person". Myself, I thought the play did pretty well in how Charlie encounters all the others who go missing for such ambiguous reasons - the priest who walks out of his sermon, the petty criminal, etc etc - in giving an idea of it all. Basically, it wasn't a naturalistic play, and I think the production just fell too easily into a naturalistic stance that obscured its complexities. But I have read the text, which gives me an advantage.

Anonymous said...

Re: "... the main character's lack of success...resulting in his unfortunate demise..."

NTG, as I was planning to see this play a "spoiler alert" would've been much appreciated!!

(Currently reading "Death of a Salesman". Hope no one spoils that for me too!)

Anonymous said...

Hi Alison,

Wayne Pearn here, AD of Hoy Polloy. Some interesting comments, however, the most prescient one, to my mind anyway, is that you have read the text. May I ask before or after viewing the production? Either or I would suggest it makes for an imperfect review. A rather high percentage of the audience who haven't had the luxury of reading the text have found it to be a fascinating ride and it has resonated with a number of Gen X and, in particular, Y punters. They continue to vote with their feet. Not sure if I agree with the production falling to easily into a naturalistic stance either, however, as always your comments do stir the grey matter.
Troubadour do come along and make your own mind up.
AC, you are more than welcome to come back if you wish.


Alison Croggon said...

Thanks Wayne - a fascinating ride indeed. I'm not sure that whether I've read the text makes any difference to my - always arguable - opinion of a production (I am pretty practised at telling the difference between the two); what it does mean is that I've had a chance to study the writing in depth and, as you know, it impresses me.