From the moment you walk into The Owl and the Pussycat on Swan Street Richmond, you are immediately on stage. The small brick converted shop front is possibly the most intimate and strangely confronting theatre in Melbourne, as both the actors and the audience are on display in the confined space.
There couldn't be a more perfect setting for David Hare's controversial play The Blue Room. Originally conceived in 1900 and titled Reigen meaning "round-dance," the play is a sexual dance between two actors each taking on several different characters over the space of 10 acts. With just two actors, The Blue Room is a challenging and daunting production for any performer to take on. Embodying every sector of society, the actors are very rarely off stage as they and the set are constantly changing and evolving to fit the latest incarnation of themselves.
From a prostitute to a politicians' wife or taxi driver to playwright, the incredible cast of Kaitlyn Clare and Zac Zavod never miss a beat in the action, becoming their characters so completely with a mere change of costume that their previous persona is wiped from existence by their sheer brilliance.
Clare is an exceptional actress – not only incredibly beautiful but a true chameleon, her ability to change costume, set, character and accent in a matter of seconds is simply incredible. What's perhaps most pivotal though is that she is utterly believable and committed to every aspect of each character, presenting an in-depth knowledge of their individual personalities.
Met with Zavod's emotionally ambiguous range of characters from little boy lost to sexual deviant, he is Clare's match in every way. Zavod's constant transformation is a remarkable feat and leaves the audience unbalanced by the unpredictable nature of his characters.
In fact it is this entire unstable world constructed from the most fragile of human emotions; desire, lust, comfort and love that makes The Blue Room such a wonderfully honest investigation into the human psyche. What you are left with however, is an off-putting sense of voyeurism and an intricate look into your own morals.
Director Jason Cavanagh has achieved the incredible. A tiny theatre, almost a dozen set changes and as many characters to explore, Cavanagh is nothing short of a visionary. A soundtrack of Tom Waits, Barry White and Edith Piaf contributes to the lighter moments in the play, with the greatest literally revealed during the final scene of the traffic stopping performance.
5pound Theatre may only be in its second year of existence, but with its high caliber of performers and productions, this company has a great deal to offer the artistic community of Australia and indeed the world.
5pound Theatre Presents
The Blue Room
by David Hare
Directed by Jason Cavanagh
Venue: The Owl and the Pussycat, 34 Swan Street Richmond
Dates: 8 – 18 August
Tickets: $18 – $22 +BF