Left – Lucas Stibbard. Photos - Al Caeiro
Lucas Stibbard's Helpmann Award nomination is hardly surprising, given the non-stop wow-factor he exudes in this one-man show. Obviously a lot of work goes on behind the scenes, but as in all great theatre, this effort goes unnoticed throughout the performance. This is one seamless, original, exhilarating production.
Boy Girl Wall has an uncanny and thoroughly delightful way of romanticizing science, not an easy feat when you think about it. But there it is – supernovas, electricity, string theory and... love, all brought together by a spurned Mac computer and a dividing apartment wall that sounds suspiciously like Frank Spencer.
Here lies one of the most thrilling aspects of this production: Stibbard manages to imbue a myriad of inanimate objects with distinct personalities, often in rapid succession. There's the Frank Spencer wall, a ceiling, doors, a laptop, a floor, jobs, household items, days of the week; one wonders if the man actually requires oxygen. On top of the inanimate objects, there's the raft of other characters Stibbard plays: Thom, who has worked in IT for the last ten years but still doesn't know what it is he actually does; Alethea, the children's book writer and illustrator, whose notes get stolen by the killer Magpie of Montague Road; Thom's smarmy boss; sock puppets, said magpie, and more. And all done with faultless ease and awe-inspiring velocity.
While the pace is frenetic the premise is simple. As Thom prepares for a meeting with the big boss who will surely find out he doesn't know what he's doing, Alethea's deadline for the magpie-stolen book looms, and it seems their lives are about to take a very bad turn. What they don't know is that their apartment building, incited by that romantic common wall, is devising a plan to bring them together (as all good apartment buildings should). Barry the Mac does his part, science happens, and the rest, as they say, is history.
There is so much to like about this production. The set is ingenious in its simplicity and adaptability. Armed with a piece of chalk and an overhead projector, Stibbard is able to create any scene he chooses. And there are some clever additions that had the highschool students on Thursday's packed matinee squealing in delight. Chalk? Making 17 year olds exclaim in surprise? This isn't too far off revolutionary I'm thinking. The soundscape is well realised and the script, co-written by Stibbard and Matthew Ryan (both founding members of the Escapists Theatre Company), is an uber fast-paced triumph, pitched perfectly for upper highschool students and adults alike.
Stibbard's mastery of physical theatre, though, is what makes this production so dazzling. He is one exceptionally gifted performer. His embodiment of a cat in a man-suit and his ability to play a woman and a magpie at the same time is so worth the ticket price.
If you can still get a ticket, go and see Boy Girl Wall. It's packed with surprises, lots of laughs, and some heart-lifting poetic moments in a quirk-filled story.
MTC presents a production by The Escapists
Boy Girl Wall
by Matthew Ryan and Lucas Stibbard
Venue: The MTC Theatre, Lawler Studio
Dates: 17 April – 4 May 2012
Tickets: from $40
Bookings: 03 8688 0800 | www.mtc.com.au