Popular culture leads us to believe that many men are driven by the 'thrill of the chase' in their pursuit of women, but at what point does the chase turn into something more sinister? At what point does an admirer become unwelcome? Boy Gets Girl is a contemporary thriller that delves into the act of stalking and demonstrates the resulting havoc on the lives of its hapless victims.
The play starts innocently enough. A friend suggests journalist Theresa Bedell, (Alison Van Reeken) goes on a blind date with computer consultant Tony (Myles Pollard of McLeod's Daughters fame). They meet for a quick drink in a bar and when that goes well they agree to meet for a meal. At the end of the date, realising Tony is not the man for her, Theresa politely yet firmly tells him there will be no third date. And then the 'chase' begins.
The play opens with Theresa sitting in her office, her laptop in front of her, a spotlight highlighting her while the rest of the stage is cast in darkness. Then the music begins, haunting and suspenseful. The mood is set - the audience has gooseflesh. This is just the reaction director Adam Mitchell was hoping for when he looked to film noir classics for inspiration in the production of Boy Gets Girl. The staging is clever; like an optical illusion, we see tables and chairs spanning the depth of the new State Theatre Centre stage - seemingly getting smaller the further away they get from the audience, creating the perception of a huge performance stage. The angled flats add to the illusion. Most of the performance takes place at the front table - subtle shifts in props, lighting and chair positioning allow the audience to imagine a bar, a restaurant, an office.
The introduction of Theresa's apartment was striking. When Theresa suddenly appears in her apartment, which is suspended upstage, I thought I was looking at pre-recorded video on screen - it took me a moment to realise the suspended cube was an actual set. Distractingly the apartment then remains in view for the majority of the show, giving the impression that some action will take place there. Later, spectacularly, the apartment does come into sharp focus again, but I would have liked to see the lighting dimmed on the set when it was not in use.
There were no weak links in the Black Swan Theatre Company cast. There were times I felt frustrated that suspenseful moments were annoyingly shattered with a throw away joke, but this is the a reflection on the writer Rebecca Gilman and no fault of the actors. There were times during the production I had a sense of something missing. I couldn't quite put my finger on what the issue was; I felt this play was great but something was preventing it from being excellent. Given that the play explored such a personal topic, it may have been that my seat in the Dress Circle was too far away, whereas a seat in stalls would have provided closer proximity and more intimacy with the action. Boy Gets Girl is refreshingly different, imaginatively staged and well worth a look.
Black Swan State Theatre Company presents
Boy Gets Girl
Written by Rebecca Gilman
Dates: 15 – 30 September 2012
Venue: Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA