Boxed In tries to be too many things. It is at once a murder mystery, a domestic drama and a dark comedy. Despite this mishmash of genre, style, and theme, it still manages to be very engaging. It is probably not the greatest thing you will see during this year's Sydney Fringe festival, but it is well worth the price of admission.
Boxed In is the story of three friends, Ozzy (Tim Quaife), Mitch (Jack D'Arcy), and Gordon (Tom Hawthorne), who have taken jobs as removalists in the town they grew up in, a town they are soon to leave, not just because they've outgrown it but because the town is being destroyed. They make a horrifying discovery on their last shift, and this leads to secrets surfacing, friendships being tested, and the last vestiges of their innocence being shattered. Together, they must make a decisions: what to do now, and what to do with the rest of their lives.
The real catalyst for action in this play is the discovery of a dismembered body in a cardboard removalists' box, and as such, I wish that a). it had happened earlier, and b). more of the action that came after it had been about it. It served to spark conflict but then was almost forgotten. My complaint is along the lines of the adage that if a gun is onstage in Act 1, it should be fired by the end of a play; a dismembered body in a box should be the subject of drama, not merely a spark to set the fire of other dramas alight. This dead body mostly served to create non-dead body tangents. This was one of the key reasons I felt the play was a bit confused, thematically: it had the trappings of something dark and Gothic, with a mystery to solve, but seemed to want to be a character study along psychological thriller lines. It meant that key questions - who is the dead girl? why was she killed? and why is she in the box? - were not answered, and instead sacrificed on the altar of interpersonal drama.
Boxed In is desperately earnest, and this is not normally a style of drama I enjoy, so I was pleasantly surprised that I liked Boxed In as much as I did. I think it has definite potential for further development: if it can decide what it wants to be and what it wants to achieve, I think it could certainly be a very fine play. The piece was devised by the three actors, and pieces created in this way can sometimes feel disjointed, the varying hands in their creation showing. While Boxed In was thematically confused, in terms of voice, it was very consistent.
All three actors also demonstrate great potential (though they all need to curb their penchant for over-acting), and as they are all young, I hope to see more of them as they grow and improve. If Boxed In were to be reworked, developed and finetuned, I would happily see it again in the future.
Deadcat Theatre presents
Dates: September 7 - 9 , 2012
Venue: King Street Theatre