For those reasons, it pains me to observe somewhat otherwise, of this one.
At the risk of damning with feint praise (unintended), Unrequited falters a little. Firstly, it's way too long and ponderous. While every effort has been made, no doubt, to fully explore characters' lives, the chain of relationships, separated by a mere six degrees, seems somewhat inconclusive and unsatisfying. Tunks' attempts, on this occasion, are a tad hamfisted, resulting in pretension to poignancy being reduced to precarious parody; as when Alastair (McGhee) relates the circumstances leading to his comatose wife's intractable plight, including the loss of their baby. In short, it's all just a bit lacking in cred and conviction and Mr T's customarily acute judgment in these matters. In other words, something of the restrained narrative measure and sensibility seems to have gone temporarily astray. It's not cancer; just a cold.
Those reservations notwithstanding, this world premiere is especially noteworthy for veritable masterclasses from Kate Maree Hoolihan, as Gabby Perkins, and ('though my companion found him irritating, at times) Rick Cosnett, who ekes every gay vibe out of high-camp Christian Kirkpatrick. These two easily steal the stage, radiating confidence and competence from, almost, their very first lines and actions. Christie Hayes' Brooke Donner was an archetypal, if (only) slightly more complex, shallow, opportunist, while WT, for mine, wasn't, for the most part, at peak, even looking a little out of his element. Perhaps this related to his delegation of directorial duties to Greg Hatton, who also played hapless, if substantially well-meaning troglodyte, Vince Barlow.
Scott Major's Jeremy Potter struggled, in the charisma stakes; then again, some of his lines were a little too glib.
Catherine Kelleher pulled-off her full frontal unflappably, but seemed unbelievable as wishful thinking faghag, Alana McGhee.
Rachel McNamara's call, as artificially respirated Rachel McGhee, was probably as hard as it looks, so plaudits for executing a role for which no ego-driven actor would likely strive.
No-one can question the credentials of the talent amassed here, but the chemistry is neither on the stage, or page. There are moments of unmistakable Tunks trademark genius: one or two very crisp lines and a very well-realised, histrionic Christmas scene, for example. But, all-in-all, this is a play which hasn't yet lived fully up to its promise, let alone its writer's.
Knowing the resilience and grit of said individual, however, I'll not be surprised if a new, improved version, and, most probably, a raft of other exciting projects, is far away. Tunks' light hasn't dimmed; merely flickered.
by Wayne Tunks
Newtown Theatre | Cnr Bray and King Streets, Newtown
31 May to 20 June at Wed – Sat 8pm
$27 / $22 concession | groups of 8 or more $20 | Wed 30 May preview $15 | every Wednesday night is $15 student night.
MCA on 1300 306 776 or www.mca-tix.com