The Incident at Fugue Bay | Canberra Dramatics

The Incident at Fugue Bay starts with a premise that would make the writers of any crime drama jealous: Todd, a young man who has been missing for eighteen months, is found by police. At first he can’t even speak, but eventually it becomes clear that he has lost almost all of his memory. One of the few things he remembers is that he loves Anna, his ex-fiancé, who also happens to be the psychologist assigned to monitor him.
Already we have some interesting ideas to explore, not least of which is the nature of memory. As the writer and director of the play Trevar Alan Chilver asks in the program: ‘Can you continue to love or hate without retaining a recollection of events that led you to loving or hating?’ We also need to delve into the mystery of Todd’s sudden disappearance, the cause of his memory loss, and Anna’s reaction to his reappearance. 
No one could argue that this play doesn’t have anything to say. The difficulty, it turns out, is that it tries to say too much. As the plot develops, it becomes clear that Anna has moved on during the last eighteen months and is now dating Mikey, the police officer who found Todd at the beach. On top of this, Todd finds out that his parents killed themselves three weeks before he was found, and that now his only surviving family member is an uncle who Anna warns could try to manipulate Todd.
To work through this complex set of circumstances, Fugue Bay has to be many things at once. Todd’s mental state and family circumstances are really quite tragic. On the other hand, the love triangle between Todd, Anna and Mikey creates plenty of comedic moments and even a touch of romance. In the background, we have the police working to solve an intriguing whodunnit. Keeping all these elements coherent would be possible with firm direction, but sadly this was something Fugue Bay lacked.

The six actors were clearly committed to their characters and there were moments when each looked truly comfortable in their role. Luke Blair brought a believable sadness to Todd in his darker scenes, and did his best to join in the more comedic sequences without jarring. Nathan Stiles and Ian Phillips also managed some relaxed and funny moments as the two police officers, despite the fact that this was the first time on stage for both. But more subtlety was needed in the performances to bring out the best in this multi-layered story. Some quieter moments from Gabrielle Adams’ Anna, in particular, would have created a more sympathetic character and therefore a better understanding of why Todd and Mikey would spend so much time vying for her attention. 
Happily, nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the Tuggeranong Arts Centre audience, who seemed to relish every twist and turn in this tale. If nothing else, they must have recognised the importance of Canberra Dramatics’ commitment to new productions and local actors. Rough edges aside, The Incident at Fugue Bay is to be commended for making its profound themes entertaining, and for creating an opportunity to showcase original scriptwriting and emerging talent.

Canberra Dramatics present
The Incident at Fugue Bay

Venue: Tuggeranong Arts Centre
Dates: March 21 - April 4, 2009
Tickets: Adults $20, Concession $15
Bookings: 02 6293 1443

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