Shiny Side @ Holden Street Theatres – The Studio
9:00pm, Mon 8 Mar 2010
The lights come up in The Studio, and the set is wonderfully textured: it’s like a section of the bush, sand and bark and leaves creating a believable campsite. And then come the characters – four friends taking the “cre-mains” of a departed compadre to the campsite they all used to frequent, seeking a special place to scatter His ashes.
Goat Town then shows itself to be a vehicle for a collection of vignettes, as each of the remaining friends describes what the death means to them through a tale from another camping trip while He was alive. The departed gets described as a brother, best friend, and lover; in the end, each reflection not only reveals the feelings they had for Him, but also each other.
For a script that sounds like it would be maudlin, there’s actually a fair chunk of humour, too; the group getting spooked out, resorting to leaving the ashes in a tent while they slept outside. And there were two instances where, during character soliloquies, the ashes were partially blown away – to be secretly replaced with dirt. In the end, after they painfully come to the decision of where to deposit the ashes, there’s probably nothing left of Him to leave.
Direction (again!) was fantastic: the scene where the group illuminated their faces with momentary torchlight as they reeled off staccato dialogue was wonderful… sharp, precise, and brilliantly delivered. And the performances of the four young actors were solid. And the script was interesting enough, travelling along at a decent clip, full of believable characters and interactions. But, thinking back on it now, it actually was pretty maudlin – not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, but it was more of a considered piece of emotional introspection than a lot of the more brash pieces available at the Fringe.
Still – well worth it.