Left – Jessica Stanley and Pat Moonie. Cover – Mark Salvestro
As human beings we are constantly comparing ourselves to our peers. Even more so if we perceive them to be doing better than us. Which is exactly why our social media feeds are full of happy pictures, promotions, engagements, and anything else to best represent us as to how we want to be perceived. We all want to succeed and it’s frustrating when we see others achieving our own personal desires before we do. Buddhism says to achieve inner peace we must remove desire. Which explains why the characters of Navy Pier are so desperately unhappy and conflicted.
Navy Pier is independent theatre company North of Eight’s third production in what has already been a remarkable debut season. Directed by Phoebe Anne Taylor, the play centers around two writers, both friends and good-natured rivals, pushing each other to be better. Martin is unlucky-in-love and brilliant with pen and paper, while Kurt is well somewhat of a lady-killer and relies on his charm to ensure his good fortune. Both talented, both equal, both desperately envious of each other.
What unfolds is a complex narrative of desire, success, failure and ambition. Martin (Mark Salvestro) delivers a heartbreaking performance of the tortured artist, and yet manages to switch personas throughout the play embodying Kurt’s (Pat Moonie) charming nature with a sinister edge. Moonie somehow manages to bring out the best and worst of Kurt and while he is the despicable villain and the epitome of the character you love to hate, he remains charming, but vulnerable. Although a deeply flawed character you can’t help but want to save him, which is where his power lies.
Offset by Jessica Stanley as the bubbly Iris and the understated elegance of Siobhan Connors’ performance as Liv, Salvestro maintains focus as his obsession with Kurt grows.
The intimate space of the Courthouse Hotel means every look, every touch, every almost is felt by the audience. Nothing is missed. And North of Eight has found a cast strong enough of this scrutiny and this intimacy.
As an audience we are hooked from the moment we enter the space. The minimalist setting and strength of the script combined with the talent of the actor’s keeps the audience on the edge of their seats without ever pushing for thrills. Navy Pier is a suspenseful drama as well as a nostalgic throwback to the 90s and lives up to the excellent reputation of North of Eight’s productions.
North of Eight presents
by John Corwin
Directed by Phoebe Ann Taylor
Venue: The Courthouse Hotel | 86–90 Errol Street North Melbourne
Dates: 15 August – 2 September 2017