The Winterling | Red Stitch Actors TheatreLeft - Nicholas Bell (foreground) L-R (background) Steve Adams, Martin Sharpe. Cover - Nicholas Bell, Steve Adams & Martin Sharpe. Photos - Jodie Hutchinson

On a cold and soggy night Len West (Nicholas Bell) awaits his guest. An old associate, Wally (Steven Adams) turns up, but unexpectedly brings along a young accomplice, Patsy (Martin Sharpe).

West and Wally have a criminal history going back some time and Wally, we soon discover, is now in a relationship with Patsy’s mum. Two other strange characters Draycott (Adrian Mulraney), a hobo with questionable cooking practises and Lue (Ella Caldwell), a mysterious young girl, lurk in the background.

Writer Jez Butterworth has come up with a play which is at once cleverly funny with one-liners, poetic in its verbal sparring but always sinister in its setting and plot. The Winterling is not so much about action but rather about the verbal sparring between people who may be your friend one moment, your enemy the next.

While this can be entertaining to watch, with its unexpected twists adding to the mix, the audience is often left hanging wondering what has/is happening. On the other hand, there is much to talk about after the show.

All actors give strong performances which bring their often unsavoury characters to life. The leads Nicholas Bell, Adrian Mulraney and Steven Adams are especially good, managing the wordy speeches, regional accents and witty dialogue extremely well. Much credit must go to director Andrew Gray and the terrific atmospheric design from Peter Mumford (set), Stelios Karagiannis (lighting) and Mike Levi (sound).

Red Stitch has again presented an interesting work for Melbourne audiences to enjoy, and in so doing keeps the independent theatre spirit well and truly alive.

Red Stitch Actors Theatre presents
The Winterling
by Jez Butterworth

Venue: Red Stitch Actors Theatre, rear 2 Chapel St, St Kilda East (opp Astor)
Dates: Fri March 21 - Sat April 19
Times: Wed - Sat 8pm, Sun 6.30pm
Tickets: $18 previews Wed 19 and Thurs 20 March
Bookings: (discounted tix) or on 03 9533 8083 @ $30/20

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