In these days when it is only too easy to re–present the famous and the familiar, it takes a director with courage and imagination to dig up something new and extraordinary. Not only did Erik Strauts select and direct this play, he also contacted the original set designer (Patrick Beagan in Canada) and gained permission to reproduce what is an excellent set for this production, expertly lit by Richard Parkhill.
Perhaps this play initially seems not unusual, but then it becomes quite a bit surprising. For example, the characters start to seem much too overacted, to the extent that, by interval one is wondering if we are watching something between an amateur farce and a slapstick high school play. But the writing of the script itself redeems all that in the second act, when all is revealed, and one does not need to be psychic to work out that this cast did a fine job of portraying the eventually obvious but quirky explanation.
The story is nicely held together by a fine performance by Josh Van’t Padje as Adam, the impecunious writer living in a run-down basement New York apartment. His plain, simple and apparently straight-forward nature initially belies the sequential and literal interactions he has with a string of initially unrelated and very different characters (Anita Pipprell, James Whitrow, Jessica McGaffin, James Black and Malcolm Walton).
These actors all nicely differentiate their strangely and increasingly interrelated characters, while the plot takes us through twists and turns of multiple murders, with Midsomer-esque satisfyingly unexpected contortions. Throughout, these complexities are seasoned with some delightfully witty one-liners, which kept the intrigued audience constantly chuckling delightedly.
So don’t be deterred at first by what you might think are amateur foibles in a brilliant set. As it is described, The Psychic is “a murder mystery…of sorts” and the mystery is all explained in writing by the end. Go and see it for yourself.
Adelaide Repertory Theatre presents
by Sam Bobrick
Directed by Erik Strauts
Venue: Arts Theatre | 53 Angas Street, Adelaide
Dates: June 21 – July 1, 2017