PRESS-PLAY! (Week 1)
Adelaide Duende Collective @ Bakehouse Theatre – Studio
9:00pm, Fri 9 Mar 2012
I leave Spoonface Steinberg and turn around, straight back into the Studio for the first of Duende’s shorts for this Fringe. I’ve become quite the fan of Duende’s work in the last couple of years, so it was easy to slot both episodes of PRESS-PLAY! into the schedule; that this managed to complete a Bakehouse treble was just cunning planning.
This evening’s PRESS-PLAY! was a thirty minute short, Six Dollar Solitude. It opens with Alex – newly married but suffering from an inexplicable malaise – being badgered in a bike shop; she purchases the bike and anthropomorphises it as the second principal character, Gus (who remains proudly on display for the entire performance) and, with a hint of hesitation, starts riding.
And, as she discovers a tranquility for which she had (unknowingly) been yearning, she keeps riding, leaving Adelaide and inadvertently heading towards Alice Springs.
As she rides, we’re privy to phone conversations with her husband, parents, and friends; there’s flashbacks to the party girls and hubby again, but – in the context of her unplanned adventure – these characters all seem distant. It’s not until Alex and Gus run into trouble in the outback that any other convincing characters come onto the scene; most of the time, we’re left with a girl who appears to be emulating the later parts of Forrest Gump… but without the historical impact or celebrity. Or nobility.
Despite being initially put-off by the heavy-handed sleazy salesman in the opening scene, Renee Gentle does a decent job flitting between the characters at her disposal – although having the spotlight constantly following her and blacking out as she switches characters has the effect of making character interactions seem slow and clumsy. And, unfortunately, I don’t think that John Doherty’s script really gives her a chance to shine: whilst there are some bright spots – the begrudging acceptance of Alex’s parents to her actions, and the subsequent tension between them – the bulk of the characters in the play feel underdeveloped – in fact, it’s only Martha, the kindly hotelier from Pimba, who feels “real”.
Whilst it’s entertaining enough – and bravely brief – Six Dollar Solitude was my least favourite Duende production to date. A shame, certainly, but not enough to scare me away from the second PRESS-PLAY! instalment…