When a relationship has become a battleground, can space swords keep a couple together?
Edie and AJ have been together for many years. They have each supported each other to develop their passions and careers. While Edie progresses rapidly in her high powered career, AJ stays at home recording YouTube gaming reviews and raising their young child. In growing dissatisfaction with AJ’s lack of life progress, Edie moves out. In a last ditch attempt for reconciliation, AJ makes one last desperate play to win her back – a date, playing a computer game bought especially for them to play together. Their bickering continues as they set up the game, but as the couple get drawn in to the hyperbolic action scenario set in the year 10,000, everything has a chance to change.
10,000 delights with its insightful, intelligent script. Co-writers Jessica Messenger and Nick Maclaine keep the banter witty, even as the bitterness between Edie and AJ spills through into the game. The stilted, schlocky declarations of the cut scenes where gung ho characters are introduced, the scale of their world-saving missions revealed, are perfect depictions of sensationalist back story in adventure games. The characters of The Sentinel and the earnest young soldier are perfectly one-dimensional, providing clever foils to the messy real world entanglements of two people exploring whether their shared love and commitment can survive the various distances between them.
Both performers make the most of the discrepancy between their high powered, bad ass characters on screen and their real life situations. Messenger plays up the differences between the “specially customised” version of The Sentinel and Edie’s off screen physicality and interests. The scenes requiring her to occupy the game character almost seem to pixelate, as every aspect of her performance become more rigid – from the “Russian” accent to the self-conscious posturing. Slapstick humour entertains as Messenger acts out left-handed Edie’s struggles with the right-handed game controls, accompanied by helpful instructions from AJ. Tristan McInnes also enjoys the physical aspects of his role, switching between AJ’s defensive mannerisms to being the ultra macho Last Soldier from Planet Earth. His change in fighting style between AJ and the game character, as well as his baffled reactions to the messiness of human relationships outside the game, are endearing as well as revealing.
Director Esther Longhurst keeps this iteration of 10,000 relatively straightforward, avoiding set and costume changes but retaining a veil of ambiguity over the eventual outcomes of the game and the relationship. Working closely with fight choreographer Andy Fraser, the performers keep the sword play as realistic as possible in the far-fetched circumstances – AJ the earnest gaming aficionado is not likely to handle an actual weapon as well as the highly trained soldier, and it shows. Robert Woods’ sound design references the motifs of generic game play, emphasising the moments of development within the game’s progress and in the deterioration of Edie and AJ’s rapport.
A fast-paced addition to the Subiaco Theatre Festival, Messenger and McInnes bring a touch of real life to the fantastic mission-orientated world of the bombastic planet-saving epic, 10,000.
Perth Theatre Trust and Umbrella Works Inc present
by Jessica Messenger and Nick Maclaine
Director Esther Longhurst
Venue: Subiaco Arts Centre | 180 Hamersley Road, Subiaco WA
Dates: 14 – 17 June 2017
Part of the 2017 Subiaco Theatre Festival