Left – Sarah Jane Kelly and John O'Hare. Cover – Laurence Coy, John O'Hare and Sarah Jane Kelly. Photos – Rupert Reid
A haemorrhaging hooker and a hammer horror vampire are included in the vituperative five hander, The Night Alive by Conor McPherson.
Part of costume and scenic designer, Alison Bradshaw's ramshackle bedsit set is an eclectic wall decoration which includes a picture of Marvin Gaye, and one wonders, long before the soul singer’s standard, What’s Going On? is played, (energising a hitherto moribund piece with a jig and a dip), exactly that. What’s Going On?
The Night Alive begins with a muffled and puzzling voice-over as Maurice stares out a window before shuffling off stage.
Enter Tommy, the bedsit’s resident, with bloody nosed Aimee, a red locked knock shop employee who Tommy has rescued from an assault and brought home to clean up and comfort.
Tommy tells that his marriage has crumbled and his spouse has turned his children against him. He’s a sad sack indeed and ekes out an existence by questionable means, aided and abetted by his eejit pal, Doc.
He rents the bedsit from his cousin, Maurice, who takes a dim view of Tommy’s shenanigans, especially since he has ensconced Aimee in his crumb encrusted cot, accepting hand jobs for his accommodation hand out. And Aimee hasn’t been exactly forthright about the true identity of her assailant, a besotted boyfriend called Kevin, the epitome of pure evil.
John O’Hare is the suitably seedy Tommy, a wilting Lothario with a limited libido. Laurence Coy is technically accomplished as the simpleton Doc. The revelation of the evolution of his nickname is one of the few amusing moments in this bleak and dreary production. Patrick Dickson’s arthritic Maurice offers little more than a mordantly moralistic cypher. Darren Sabadina as the Stoker inspired stalker, Kevin, likewise is a symbolic serpent in an already withered and wilderness like Eden that the already fallen Adam and Eve, here known as Tommy and Aimee, cohabit. Sarah Jane Kelly as Aimee sparkles and steams, glistens and gleams, somewhat of a panacea for all this male centric malaise, but McPherson has never been great shakes at writing female characters, so there's no real remedy.
Director Maeliosa Stafford seems so intent to keep the play within the bounds of naturalism that the pace slows to tedium and The Night Alive is beset by dramatic doldrums, so that The Night Alive becomes a black hole where time slows down and the plot is tiresomely predictable. Lives of unquiet desperation.
O’Punksky’s Theatre in association with Red Line Productions presents
THE NIGHT ALIVE
by Conor McPherson
Directed by Maeliosa Stafford
Venue: Old Fitz Theatre, 129 Dowling Street (Cnr Cathedral Street), Woolloomooloo NSW
Dates: 13 September – 14 October 2017
Tickets: $42 – $30