Adelaide Duende Collective @ Bakehouse Theatre – Main Stage
6:00pm, Tue 8 Mar 2011
So – we’ve reached the end of the world, then. And, hunkered down in two separate bunkers, are two of the last people left on earth: Johnny and Anna. Faced with twelve months in isolation, they are only capable of communicating with each other via a single telephone line.
I like this setup. I like it a lot.
But some of the dialogue between them doesn’t feel right. For all their desperation, there’s a coolness to their banter – minutia blends into character-defining moments. Johnny’s struggling with the isolation, and hops from one theme to the next; Anna’s already faced her demons, and is waiting out her confinement. The appearance of two additional characters (played by the same actress) increases the sense of danger exuded by both characters, but by that time we already know what Anna’s capable of… so the focus falls on Johnny, as he slowly unravels.
Dee Easton’s direction is great, separating the two characters into their own little areas of desperation – with a bed crossing the divide between them; Johnny’s bunker is a mess of video tapes and papers, Anna’s is neat and orderly. Matt Crook is a joy to watch as Johnny: his mental disintegration is an uncomfortable joy to behold. Bianka Feo’s Anna is played a lot cooler, more distant, and it becomes a challenge to empathise with her.
As I mentioned above, I liked the setup to No Hello a lot… but the end result left me a bit perplexed. All the ingredients were there for me; in fact, the script seemed tailor made for me. Post-apocalyptic doom? Yep. Nutty guy slowly losing it? Check. Strong woman with physical scars over a brutalised conscience? Big tick. A script that contains eighties references and clever one-liners? Jackpot.
And yet I walked away not wanting to know more about these people. There was no real connection. And, whilst I remember alternating between contemplating and laughing in the theatre, I didn’t really take much of that out with me. Still, I’d hardly call it a blemish on Duende’s record…