Photo - Peter Stone
Threeway is a new Brainbox Project production penned by the project’s executive producer, Belinda Dunbar. The show is described as being a deliciously naughty musical tale of deception, infidelity and dirty little secrets. I think it’s safe to assume that the voyeur in all of us isn’t unopposed to a bit of ‘deliciously naughty’ every now and again, and judging from the full-house only three days into the two week run, I’d say that assumption isn’t far off. Deliciously naughty, however, is not what we got. Hackneyed one-liners and underdeveloped characters we got, in spades. Deliciously naughty? No.
The three performers, Clare Moore, Shai Yammanee and Sharon Wisniewski were the show’s saving grace. They all delivered outstanding performances and, as is so often the case, demonstrated the incredible talent that comes out of WAAPA year after year. Even with the stellar effort put in by the performers however, it was never going to be enough to create a truly entertaining piece of theatre from a script in dire need of another draft (or two).
Threeway, as the name suggests, is about a love triangle. Colin (Shai Yammanee) and Lyndal (Clare Moore), have been married for several years and were sweethearts from their university days. Colin is your typical Aussie bloke who just wants to come home from work and watch the footy on TV with a cold tinny. Lyndal, still waiting for the engagement ring to go next to the wedding band on her finger, dreams of a different life; of holidays in Paris in-between wedded bliss with a new baby in her arms. You know where this is going already, right? In comes the gorgeous Sienna, (with a name like Sienna, could she be anything but?) (Sharon Wisniewski), Colin’s PA and Lyndal’s best friend. And yes, you guessed it; she’s having an affair with Colin. The rest is, how shall we say, predictable?
Threeway is a good example of talented performers doing their job with an underdeveloped script. Dunbar seems to have sacrificed the narrative to fit around the songs – never a good idea. This is never more obvious than when Sienna delivers a lengthy monologue in the second Act, addressing the audience in order to give us all the relevant back-story. It was so jarring that any truly intimate involvement I had with the story up to that point fairly flew out the window. If this technique (addressing the audience) had been employed even one other time during the show I may have swallowed it, but alas, it remains as extremely transparent narrative scrambling. Sharon Wisniewski is to be commended for her delivery of said monologue; she is as fine an actor as she is singer. And what a singer she is. Her rendition of the Kelly Clarkson song, Because of You, immediately following the monologue brought tears to my eyes and made me long to be able to sing like that. Wisniewski is an extremely confident performer and a delight to watch.
Shai Yammanee was excellent given he had the unenviable task of portraying a beer swilling, football obsessed, adulterous meat-head who suddenly breaks into eloquent song, crooning in French and waxing lyrical about Bordeaux wine. On top of this, he must sing a rousing song about how desperately he loves his mistress, Sienna, only to then, when she dumps him, convince the audience that he has, within the space of – oh - forty seconds, realised the error of his ways. He then sings with such tenderness about his wife that I sat there wondering if it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Yammanee threw himself into this bubble-and-squeak of a role with a commitment that is to be commended. His voice is dreamy, to say the least, and exceptionally powerful.
Moore is lovely in the role of the long suffering Lyndal. She plays ‘drunk’ exceptionally well, delighting the audience with her well timed delivery. One of the opening songs, The Paris Medley, performed by Moore and Yammanee, was one of the highlights of the show.
The few songs that all three performers sing together work exceptionally well and showcase their talents. Moore and Wisniewski sounded beautiful together and I found myself wishing for more of the same.
It’s often hard in a small space to get the balance between live musicians and singers right and it was spot-on in the first Act. Unfortunately in the second, the singers were harder to hear from further back in the room. The set, though somewhat in need of more vibrant colour, worked well, as did the lighting (after a few issues with actors not being well lit at the front of the stage were sorted out).
With the same great cast, and a few rewrites, Dunbar might have a solid show on her hands. For me, above all else, it was the ridiculous character of Colin that ruined it. Perhaps it was miscast after-all and Yammanee was just too polished to play a typical Ocker bloke, but somehow I don’t think so. He was given several male clichés to play on top of one another and in the end, just had to rely on letting his voice win us over.
A Brainbox Project
by Belinda Dunbar
Venue: DownStairs at the Maj, His Majesty's Theatre
Dates: Tuesday 24 June to Saturday 5 July
Tickets: Standard Ticket $40, Concession $35, Student Rush $10* (Fulltime students only. Available one hour prior to performance, subject to availability).
Bookings: BOCS Ticketing (08) 9484 1133 / www.bocsticketing.com.au or at any BOCS outlet