Everynight, Everynight [FringeTIX]
Darren Hassan & Company @ Adelaide Gaol
8:00pm, Thu 26 Feb 2009
After a cancellation leaves Everynight, Everynight my sole show for the day, an impromptu boozy dinner leaves me pretty cheery when walking into the old Adelaide Gaol for this, an adaptation of the Ray Mooney play; possibly not the best mental state to be in when watching a play about the debasement and humiliation of prisoners.
It’s a grim tale – we’re introduced to the prison hardman, Bryant, and his mate Barrett, and stand in a cramped cell corridor whilst we watch Barrett be repeatedly beaten and ridiculed by three Officers of the prison. Not a hand is laid on Bryant, however; his importance in the smooth running of the prison is evident from the outset, and expounded in dialogue later. The audience takes a short walk outside to the exercise yard, where we encounter young Flannery – who is summarily accused of assaulting another prisoner and sent to H Division – the maximum security wing of Pentridge. There, he is indoctrinated into the ways of H Division through prolonged beatings and humiliation (being stripped and raped).
Eventually, Flannery “resigns from the human race,” claiming that the rules and regulations no longer apply to him; he wins the support of Bryant (and hence, most of the rest of the prison population), and instigates an uprising within the prison, resulting in an ultimately unsuccessful, but damaging, Royal Commission into brutality against prisoners. The prisoners’ revolt – prior to Flannery’s stand, the unbroken law within the prison was to never dob anyone (even the screws) in – had massive repercussions inside the prison.
So – a pretty interesting story, I reckon. And the Gaol certainly makes for a decent setting for the performance (although I tend to think that a few more flourishes in the staging would’ve been nice… how about positioning the audience / actors above / below each other?) But it was a pretty hot and sticky night, and once we were all eventually seated within “H Division”, there was no airflow – resulting in a slightly uncomfortable experience.
Another problem – for me, anyway – was that the long, narrow corridors in which the play was performed were acoustically ratshit. Echoes, high frequencies triggering my tinnitus, awful. But – and it’s a big but – this was still a quality production; the acting was generally excellent (though Damien Carr was weedy as Flannery, Gary Harrison absolutely nailed the solemn menace of Bryant), and direction solid, if unimaginative. So quite why the insolent little shits in front of me refused to clap at the end of the performance, I don’t know. The twats.
Speaking of which… it’s important to note that I am completely au fait with profanity; those even only moderately acquainted with me know that I swear like a fucking trooper. No word is off limits to my spoken vocabulary; I guess what I’m saying in a very roundabout way is that I drop the C-Bomb a lot. Not a problem to me. But I recognise that, despite Sex In The City‘s best attempts, it still remains one of the few words that carry any level of taboo today, and – when writing, at least – I like to keep it tucked away, ready for when I really need that extra little bit of impact, of oomph.
So it’s a real treat to realise that Everynight, Everynight seems to be on a bloody-minded mission to drop the C-Bomb as often as possible during the show… in fact, I’d wager it outnumbers “fuck” and, indeed, any other word in the show. Initially, there were a few gasps and pulled faces from some audience members; but by the second act, it was second nature to them (and, speaking of audience-related giggles, it was damn funny to hear the young lasses behind me (previously intimidated by cockroaches outside) scrabble to catch a glimpse of Flannery’s cock when he was stripped. More gasps there ;)
In short: decent theatre, well performed, slightly odd location. Solid Fringe.