This Is A Play
theater simple @ The Odeon Theatre
5:00pm, Tue 9 Mar 2010
Right, let’s get one thing straight – this show is one of the highlights of the year.
In a season of meta-theatre (what with King John, Red Bastard, The Walworth Farce, The Event, Vs Macbeth, and The Sound and the Fury), Daniel MacIvor‘s tight script manages to out-meta the rest… and still manages to be gut-bustingly funny in the process.
With barely a reference to the wider play itself (apart from the frequent mentions of the mysterious and presumably-symbolic Lettuce), the three actors vocalise their stage directions, their internal monologues, and their responses to each other. Ricky Coates, the buff Male Actor who performs everything with conviction, struggles to express the softer emotions and nuance; Pamala Mijatov, the beautiful and sensuous Female Actor, is tentative and delicate, enunciating in wide dance-like flourishes. Llysa Holland plays the Older Female Actor – experienced in the craft, and hence disenfranchised and bitter (perhaps because of the wig?)… yet still deemed matriarchal and credible.
As the three actors explain their way through The Play, there’s constant turmoil: the younger actors trying to upstage each other while the Older Female takes every opportunity for a drink or cigarette. Lines are held back to mess with the other actors. The relationships with the unseen (“dance background”) director are revealed. The playwright and composer’s every word and note are questioned. It’s a non-stop stream of wry theatrical observation and in-jokes.
But most importantly – it really is quite brilliant. Whilst coming in at a svelte forty-ish minutes, it packs in way more dialogue than most shows manage in an hour… and not a line of it is wasted, not a word is filler. MacIvor (also responsible for Never Swim Alone and House Humans) has produced a script that looks as fun for the cast as it is for the audience; and, as an indication to the wonderful nature of the performances, I reckon I liked This Is A Play even more when I saw it again three days later. And it even made Irene laugh out loud!