Rio Saki & Other Falling Debris | Parnassus' DenLeft - Joshua Hewitt (top) & Daniel Agapiou. Cover - Cat Commander & Gus Murray

Rio Saki and Other Falling Debris
, written by Shaun Charles and directed by Dave Letch, is set in the last days of life as we know it, before a giant asteroid collides with the earth, ultimately resulting in the extermination of the human race.

A fascinating premise, and one ripe with dramatic potential. Unfortunately this production, presented by Sydney theatre collective Parnassus’ Den, fails to reach its full potential.

Six characters search desperately for greater meaning and burgeoning human connections in a rapidly fracturing reality. Their lives intertwine and collide as they wait for their collective fates to play out. 

Siblings Craig (Gus Murray) and Hannie (Melanie Berry), reel from the car crash death of their parents. Craig’s wife Charlotte (Cat Commander) has suffered a mental breakdown in light of the impending Armageddon and spends most of the play in a catatonic state. Cathy (Gina Morley) leaves Tom (Daniel Agapiou) for another woman and heartbroken, Tom forges a friendship with Lewis (Joshua Hewitt) who is ensconced in an ill-fated search for the subsequent oblivion that the ultimate drug high can offer.

The character’s belated and urgent pursuit of love and companionship in the fading days of the human race however, appeared unconvincing. Relationships seemed forced with little chemistry between performers and dialogue that fell crashing to the floor, as it was unsupported by a cast that lacked cohesion. A deeper investigation of the text may have enabled a greater connection to the ideas and themes depicted within the piece and allowed the characters more scope. 

As the action progressed from the relative naturalism of earlier scenes towards the heightened and fractured dialogue that built the conclusion of the work, the performers struggled to push the action far enough dramatically. 

Perhaps a more absurdist directorial approach would have heightened the sense of impending doom and ultimate destruction, as each of the characters realities unraveled within a world that was ethically, socially and emotionally falling apart.

Instead the performers resorted to depictions of over the top hysteria and unconvincing attempts at pathos, leaving the emotional landscape of the piece littered with (hopefully) unintentional parody and cliché.  

There was little relief as the final scenes all played out at the same dramatic frequency, lacking any subtlety and nuance that a more varied theatrical dynamic would have displayed.

Overall, a more thorough and imaginative approach to the text would have benefited this production immensely. Perhaps the dialogue will settle throughout the rest of the season as the energy becomes more focused, but at this stage, what is on offer is a disappointing and somewhat frustrating night out at The Carlton Courthouse.

La Mama & Parnassus’ Den present
Rio Saki & Other Falling Debris
by Shaun Charles

Venue: The Carlton Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton
Dates: June 4 – 21
Times: Wed @ 6.30pm; Thurs-Sat @ 8pm; Sat mat @ 2pm; Sun mat @ 5pm
Tickets: $20/$10 Concession
Book: 9347 6142

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