The Boat & Big Rig Casanova
Lind Lane Theatre
24th May – 1st June 2013
Reviewed by Xanthe Coward
by Jill Shearer
Directed by Anne Grant
Featuring Ray Paine, Denise Hauville, Sean McBride & Kathryn Barnes
Confident direction and a decent exploration of Jill Shearer’s affecting text about a family man who is retrenched isn’t enough to send it skimming across the waves to us, but The Boat drifts along nicely for a while, and reveals a new creative force in Director, Anne Grant.
In the little Lind Lane Theatre foyer, Grant provides terrific detail about absurdist theatre, for those who are unfamiliar with the genre, and a copy of the heartfelt tribute to Shearer, which David Berthold wrote at the time of her passing in 2012. It’s lovely to know that the production will be re-staged in the Seaside Museum on Bribie Island, where Shearer originally imagined the play, in a twilight performance on June 9th.
Sel (Ray Paine) sets up his reality confidently, without question, and the wife (Denise Hauville) and son (Sean McBride) support him in it just long enough to make sure we’ve invested too. A neat theatrical convention – an excellent choice – allows us time to process the unlikely image before us, which is a boat in the middle of a living room. Shearer’s is poignant, perfect writing, beautifully realised, and losing nothing until the introduction of the son’s girlfriend (Kathryn Barnes), which leads to a climax that seems undermined by some awkward moments. The naturalistic delivery style gets a little lost in the water at this stage, but on a special note; for his theatrical debut, Paine shines in this production.
The Boat sets out from the shore strongly, and suffers a little as it suddenly loses the wind from its sails, but I did enjoy it, and I can imagine it will feel just perfect in the Seaside Museum. If you can catch it there, on June 9th, go see Grant’s production of Jill Shearer’s The Boat for yourself.
Big Rig Casanova
by David Haviland
Directed by David Haviland
featuring Michael Healy, David Haviland, Kirsty White, Julian White & Rex Halverson
As with any new, unheralded thing, one goes in slightly wary, but there was no need for any misgivings about David Haviland’s Big Rig Casanova; it’s an entertaining, amusing and mysterious plot-driven piece that gives us a unique Australian story, a couple of good outback characters, and an upbeat song to boot! It feels like it wants to be a bigger show, something on the scale of Bob Cat Dancing perhaps?! Just imagine!
With projected images of a painted sunburnt country scene – picture an army of anthills and a windmill under various shades of blazing sun and sunsets – and minimal set pieces, we settle into an empty, eerie, outback out-station that hides away an artistic soul and his alter ego (some might say “muse”) from the harsh reality of the exterior, the “real world”. Colin Grevett and Josh Wilson (Lighting & Sound) have contributed a distinct, almost hollow ambience to this production. It’s just right. With an odd assortment of additional characters to lead us, eventually, in the right direction, we see the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and start to understand the man…and a little bit about what it must be like to live alone in an ancient sacred place. I’d love to hear more about the spiritual aspects of the setting; the Indigenous aspect of the tale is so alluring and could easily help to raise the stakes when developed further. It seems a stronger character piece than perhaps first intended (or at least, advertised), but there’s a high-stakes sub-plot begging to be explored.
I look forward to seeing more from Haviland, and whether or not anything more is done with his Big Rig Casanova.
Tonight is the final performance of the two one-act plays at Lind Lane Theatre but there’s certainly some must-sees coming up, among them, JRB’s superb Songs for a New World, produced by The Tipokis and starring Patrice Tipoki Arkins, Kuki Arkins, Jennifer Vuletic and Mark Doggett, together with Musical Director Laura Tipoki. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this production!
Book early because SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD WILL SELL OUT!