Greg Fleet’s first theatre play is full of memories, tears, laughter and Good Music.
This is Not a Love Song is set in the memory of Jimmy Harrison’s apartment, details faded, edges a little blurred. In the corner is a keyboard, complete with collection hat and grizzled musician, though not as grizzled as tall, present-day Jimmy stalking his way around his own recollections. The focus is on the young people as they fall in love, laugh, make mistakes, destroy each other and move on. The older Jimmy is wistful, a frequent visitor to these memories, frustrated, entertained, resigned as he watches young Jimmy talk Sophie into his life and later push her out of it with more words, wrong ones, at wrong times.
Shane Adamczak is perfect as Jimmy’s gormless, unformed youth of memory, gawky, sporadically enthusiastic, often lost in a world of pot and Mario Kart. His passion for creation, for achieving greatness and for appreciating great music is consistently natural and believable, with comic-dramatic gold in his excited celebration of the greatness of Daryl Braithwaite’s The Horses. His strong vocal skills work well with the clear sweetness of Tegan Mulvany’s voice as they sing duets, and especially in one scene where the pair chatter excitedly to each other while singing strategically-selected lyrics over each other’s contrasting lines, as they fall in love. Mulvany exudes her character’s strength of personality, the intelligence, patience and humour shining through to make the tale’s twist understandable and the closing focus on her a natural choice. Michael de Grussa’s deep notes and keyboard skills underpin many of the songs, but his incidental interactions with the characters are well-timed without falling into slapstick comic relief. Greg Fleet’s script and character of older Jimmy with dry asides never allows matters to become bogged down in emotional quagmires, his long experience in stand-up comedy priming him to contrast tragic waste with laconic observation. Fleet impresses with his acting, not hogging the stage but allowing his older, sadder, wiser Jimmy to interact with the audience and contextualise events. Fleet’s singing voice is not always easy on the ear, broken, rasping and unpredictably striving for notes, but these difficult qualities bring poignancy to his contributions, bringing another dimension to the sweet, strong and tuneful harmonies of the other performers.
Not a comedy, but not a kitchen sink drama, either, This is Not a Love Song feels suspiciously autobiographical and peculiarly intimate, providing insights into Greg Fleet’s life and loves, haunting with melodies arranged to tug at the heart strings.
This is Not a Love Song
by Greg Fleet
Directed by Tegan Mulvany
Venue: The Blue Room Theatre | Perth Cultural Centre
Dates: 19 August – 6 September 2014
Tickets: $15 – $25