Photo - Al Caeiro
'Happily ever after' needn't be about nabbing the prince-more about grabbing your life. Boy Girl Wall is a comedy that shakes your sides as well as your shoulders to give a positive kick as much as a satisfying sigh.
Is there a whopping great barrier stopping you living the life you want? What would it take to say 'I quit', or 'It's over'? A microcosm of life's challenges is examined in the thoroughly engaging and innovative production of Boy Girl Wall. By innovative I don't mean those 'what-the?' performances such as dudes dressed in garbage bags Cossack dancing on Twister maps, but truly light-bulb ingenuity of set design and stagecraft at its best. The Escapists production company of 'Realisers': Sarah Winter, Lucas Stibbard, Matthew Ryan, and Neridah Waters, jumble together all the classic rules of theatre then smash them up and build something better – like hotting up a vintage Mercedes to really make it rock.
As the publicity blurb says, Boy Girl Wall is not a love story, but a story about love. But not in the romantic huggy smoochie sense – instead, it is the love of staying true to your dreams. The fact that there happens to be a man and a woman involved just adds another feel-good element to the dynamic.
Overall the vibe is a bit like the popular French rom-com film Amelie in quirkiness and plot, that is, stable disharmony resolving to happily-ever-after-conquering fears and challenges along the way.
The script by Matthew Ryan and Lucas Stibbard is bang-on as far as character-depth and plot pacing goes. The time seemed over too quickly even at over an hour, and had it been a film I'd have been waiting around past the credits just to get that little bit extra. It's obvious the creative dynamic that flows in this team – more more more please from The Escapists!
A third person (with multiple personalities!) point-of-view tells the story of the 'boy', IT worker Thom's apathy for his job and his love of astronomy where he escapes to in times of stress. The 'girl' is free-spirited non-morning person Alethea – a children's book author and illustrator with writer's block and an impending deadline, who lives in the apartment next door to Thom. So you might be thinking, OK, there's a lovey-dovey thing going on with two actors intertwining hands with watery eyed amazement. Wrong! And all the better for it, as both protagonists are played by the zapping pulse that is Lucas Stibbard who zigzags across stage with engaging enthusiasm. Stibbard amazes the audience with his ability to enunciate the trickiest of lines, let alone carrying off all the dialogue himself for the entire play. His presence is akin to the diverse talents of comedian Robin Williams, using his voice and body language to keep us enthralled with hilarious scenes involving sock puppets, day-of-the-week impersonations and overhead projections. In true stand-up comedian style, Stibbard engages with the audience, improvises and leads to an edge-of-your-seat excitement.
Amplifying the buzz is the soundscape on-stage performance of Neridah Waters, who uses live instruments and mainstream music titbits, setting the scenes from magpie demonology through to disco seduction.
Stibbard and Waters take the audience on a whirlwind working week filled with eccentric characters: from a crusty Scotsman, to hipster goth, try-hard middle manager and fit-freak sleazeball. Even inanimate objects get a splashing of character colour.
Time flies, following the pacing of catalyst of respective meet-your-fate events forecast for Friday, through to the crises, then the climax we were all rooting for – but not in THAT sense ahem.
The only detractor from the experience was the cavernous space of the theatre for such a personalised show, though the set design would of course need the ceiling height to work. Speaking of which was the genius lighting design by Keith Clark involving humble lightbulbs through to fluoros and 'starlight' providing a backdrop for poignant moments.
While I'm not quite ready to quit the day job and start designing swanky chairs like I wish I could, I did leave Boy Girl Wall feeling optimistic and buzzy, with genuine affection for Thom and Alethea. If you're after an uplifting experience, or at least want to see how to overcome murderous magpies, then get yourself there – you won't regret it.
The Street Theatre presents
BOY GIRL WALL
a production by The Escapists in association with Critical Stages
Venue: Street 1
Dates: August 22 – Sept 1, 2012
Duration: 70 minutes, no interval
Tickets: $35 – $25
Bookings: (02) 62471223 | www.thestreet.org.au