Hedonism’s Second Album
La Boite Indie, David Burton & Claire Christian
With the support of QPAC
August 13-30 2014
Reviewed by Guy Frawley
Presented as a part of this year’s La Boîte Indie schedule, Hedonism’s Second Album is a thoroughly enjoyable show that explores with humour, the meaning of modern masculinity, growing up and friendship.
The show poster’s attempt at replicating an actual album launch poster was so successful that I felt quite the fool arriving at La Boîte last Thursday to discover that I was indeed reviewing a play and not covering (as I had originally wondered, perplexed) an album launch. Once the initial confusion was erased I settled into my seat with anticipation to view a piece with absolutely no preconceptions or expectations.
Hedonism’s Second Album tells the tale of a young Brisbane based indie rock band, the eponymous Hedonism, who after the success of their first album are about to begin recording their anticipated sophomore recording. Due to their hard partying, questionable work ethic and laissez-faire attitude a series of Hangover style escapades ensue that guarantee this won’t be a smooth recording process.
The cast of five fill their roles with well crafted personalities that under the direction of Margi Brown Ash evoke both depth and pathos.
Patrick Dwyer, Gavin Edwards, Nicholas Gell and Thomas Hutchings are the bandmates who are all struggling with their own demons, some more obvious than others but all revolving around the reoccurring themes of masculinity and growth. Hedonism’s Second Album spends the majority of its dramatic arc exploring what it truly means to grow up and how young men are adjusting to these changes in the modern world. The excesses offered by celebrity and the microscope of the public eye add further to this tumultuous time and kickstart a week of drama as the boys question their roles as friends, bandmates, husbands, lovers and men.
The script by David Burton and Claire Christian is crackling with energy and humour but in the wrong directorial hands Hedonism’s Second Album could have easily been clunky and inauthentic. This is a play that relies heavily upon the tone set by the director and the charisma of the cast and it was a pleasure to see both so perfectly on point.
Dwyer, Edwards, Gell and Hutchings deliver delightful performances both individually and as a unit. Each oscillating through a range of conflicting emotions and responses, convincingly portraying fully fleshed out individuals that convince us these guys have known each other for years. The emotional core of this play is to be found when we see how this group reacts to the changes in their own lives and within the band. What happens when you don’t live up to your close one’s expectations? How do you handle not living up to your own expectations? When the group are together and able to ignore all adult responsibility these problems seemingly cease to matter, but outside of the vacuum of the recording studio real life will always eventually catch up with our protagonists.
Ngoc Phan rounds out the cast as the iron willed studio representative who is tasked with the Herculean job of keeping the boys under heel and on schedule and delivers a fiery performance. Phan plays the role with the confidence and fire required but displays enough emotional depth of character to avoid becoming a stereotype.
The soundtrack curation by Riley Schleinstein presents an atmospheric mix of indie tracks and audio soundscapes that help to both set the scene and heighten the moments of drama.
Hedonism’s Second Album is a thoroughly enjoyable 80-minute journey through the inner workings of a band as they battle with themselves, their success and each other. It’s thought provoking, entertaining and at some moments incredibly touching. See it at the Loft Theatre until August 30 and, for one night only, at Nambour Civic Centre on September 4.