However, The Reunion is such a breath of fresh air it was hard to stay jaded for long.
Taking the audience through one night in life of a bunch of teenagers who meet their future selves when prom night and reunion cross over, The Reunion asks the question, if you had the opportunity, what advice would you offer your younger self. And, as adults, have we lost something in translation?
There are no lead characters here but you could say the story is held together by Angela, the kind of girl everyone knew from their own schooldays. Angela is the popular, mean girl who marries the school spunk and lives unhappily ever after in the burbs.
As Angela (at 27) Belinda Heit is terrific, subverting the stereotype to make her downtrodden housewife a truly likeable and wonderfully funny character. Her sleazy real estate husband Anthony is played with relish by Tim Dashwood (at 17) and Matthew Filkins (at 27).
Morris the school nerd who finally gets his revenge ten years on is played for laughs by Daniel White (at 17) and Chris Power (at 27). Morris is the archetypal dork who grows up to become a hot alternative guy, and though well played by the actors, it would have been nice to see a little more depth in the writing of character. I think we’re all beyond the idea of the guy who comes to school in a crash helmet and bifocals.
In a cast that must include a nerd it would be remiss not to have at least one bad girl and what a bad girl she is. Most teenagers go through rebellious phases, but they don’t usually go on to become a dominatrix. But Zoe!
When we first see adult Zoe, played with bite by Jess Loudan, she’s got a cucumber in one had and lubricant in the other. When we meet teenage Zoe, Natalie Trent, it’s hard to see how this could have happened. The program states the script does not attempt to explain the characters motivation, but with Zoe I think an exception should have been made. The character never quite worked despite the best efforts of the actors.
All the performances were terrific, but for me the standouts came from the two actors playing Gretel, a shy, social misfit who goes on to become a Botoxed, second-rate “TV personality”. Natasha Yantsch (at 27) is a truly gifted comic performer. She made every line and nuance pop and looked like she had a great time with her bitchy character.
But the most memorable moment of the show came from Tammy Weller as the young Gretel. Owning the stage in a pink leotard and not much more, Weller had the audience in stitches as she went for a gold with a classic routine to Hold On by Wilson Phillips.
The Reunion is held together by a tight script. The humour is plentiful and the dramatic moments work, on the whole. Dramaturgy by Saffron Benner has pulled all the elements together into an accomplished whole and given the show professional polish.
Meston and Evans are talented, energetic directors and they’ve managed to elicit great performances from the ensemble cast. There’s a shrewd commercial sensibility behind this project and I can see it having a bright future further on down the track.
Independent Brisbane theatre at its best!
Co-writers Dan Evans and Rebecca Meston
Venue: Sue Benner Theatre | 109 Edward Street Brisbane
Dates: 5 - 22 September
Times: 7:30pm (Wednesday - Saturday)
Contact: (07) 3002 7100 or www.metroarts.com.au
Part of the Metro Arts Independents 2007
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