Friday Night DrinksSteven Vagg’s Friday Night Drinks comes highly-commended. Brisbane’s Courier-Mail, for example, reckons ‘this is a genuinely funny play’. Certainly, the title points to one of the white-collar world’s quintessential hallmarks. It’s very mention recalls, I suspect, for many of us, a raft of regrettable experiences. There’s probably a whole psychology implicit to the phenomenon.

Vagg doesn’t plumb those depths, but he digs well below the surface. Aside from one too many references to cricket, this is a very well-observed and well-written piece, or, rather, pieces; comprising three vignettes, with the three cast handling three roles apiece.

It seems to be a lucky number, for, even within the confronting confines of the tiny Tap Gallery Theatre, of which director Byron Kaye has cleverly exploited every inch, there wasn’t a foot put wrong. Performances were nuanced, with a just-so comic exaggeration which was ticklishly delightful. This is a very sophisticated company and I hope with all my heart we see many more productions from this very talented ensemble, who’ve richly realised Vagg’s bevy of recognisable characters.

Nominations all-round, but the Oscar goes, albeit contestably, to Justin Thomson, for his realistic portrayal (a living, breathing caricature), especially, of beer-swilling homophobe, Tyson. To step from that raucous, drunken role, into the strait-jacketed, uptight, monosyllabic McKinney, big end of town lawman, is a feat of artistry in itself. He also excels as ‘ma-ate!’, Nick.

This relatively narrow victory, however, far from downplays the outstanding contributions of Lizzie Mitchell, Rowan Ellis (who genes have endowed with a wonderfully pliable, expressive face), or wonder woman, Megan Alston, who walks on from her double-agent, backstage role as producer.

Indeed, all performances are noteworthy, which in no small measure, I should think, goes to meticulously well-judged direction by Mr Kaye.

I baulked a bit at choice and use of music (I’m among the world’s most avid Zep fans, for example, but thought the selections questionable and reproduction abysmal) and there was an unfortunate lighting glitch; but, these foibles aside, Stella Green Productions, on this evidence, should have a big, bright future.

Stella Green Productions presents
By Stephen Vagg

TAP Gallery | 278 Palmer St, Darlinghurst
7-24 June
Tuesdays-Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 5pm
$25/20, Cheap Tuesdays/previews $15
BOOKINGS: or 1300 306 776

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