Day One, A Hotel, Evening | Black Swan State Theatre CompanyLeft – Jacob Allan and Claire Lovering. Cover – Michelle Fornasier, Matt Dyktynski, Humphrey Bower, Roz Hammond. Photo – Gary Marsh Photography

Day One, A Hotel, Evening
is fast paced, farcical, and for the most part, hysterically funny – assuming you’re not squirming in your seat in recognition. Director Peter Houghton and the six member ensemble have produced an electrifying, witty and amusing show.

Joanna Murray-Smith has written yet another brilliant play. I am a long time Murray-Smith fan, and Day One, A Hotel, Evening takes her language, repartee skills and one liners to a whole new level.

Six characters are in a multitude of relationships; wives, husbands, lovers, best friends, and interconnected strangers. It was hard at times to keep up with all the plot twists – and Murray-Smith purposely wrote it that way. “The audience has to work hard to keep up with the play mechanics and I like that – because as an audience member I like to do some of the arithmetic of a play, not just be delivered the sum total”.

The characters banter at redneck speeds, sound incredibly intelligent and always have a one line quip. I thoroughly enjoy this Wilde / Feydeau style theatre, but it is not to everyone’s taste. If nothing else, Murray-Smith knows the middle class mainstream theatre company audience she writes for (interestingly, this show was originally created with Red Stitch Theatre Company).

The abrupt mood turn from the peak of the story to the precipitous end is the only part of Day One, A Hotel, Evening that doesn’t work well. It felt like the characters had a common epiphany, are all running late, and have to wrap things up there and then. The energy drops on stage and the final tableau lacks the “sucker-punch” potential.

I’m like a child in a toy shop when it comes to revolving stages and the possibilities they offer. In Day One, A Hotel, Evening, Set and Costume Designer Tracy Grant Lord has used the revolve to great effect, creating numerous curved spaces with interconnecting doors that the characters use to move in and out of even as the stage turns.

Grant Lord has left the inner workings of the set exposed – the audience can see the back of the flats – successfully creating a gritty film noir reference; dark brickwork, light through open windows, bleak colours. Matthew Marshall compliments the set with his lighting design.

The six performers, all excellent in their own right, form a cohesive company. Jacob Allan and Claire Lovering; BSSTC regular Michelle Fornasier and Humphrey Bower; Matt Dyktynski and comedian Roz Hammond make up the three couples whose lives riotously intertwine and collapse into a disastrous mess. There were no obvious falters with the rapid text on opening night which was refreshing and a testament to both the rehearsal method and competence of the cast.

Ending aside, it didn’t stop the rapturous applause post curtain or the residual chuckles from audience members as they left the theatre. Day One, A Hotel, Evening is a fast, engaging piece of theatre that keeps you engrossed from the opening line to the twister ending.

Black Swan State Theatre Company presents
Day One, A Hotel, Evening
by Joanna Murray-Smith

Director Peter Houghton

Venue: Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia
Dates: 15 – 30 June 2013
Bookings: Ticketek 1300 795 012 |

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