Left – Jordan Fraser-Trumble and Jessica Martin. Cover – Jessica Martin, Pat Moonie, Mark Salvestro and Phoebe Anne Taylor. Photos – Sare Clarke
Strata Inc. A Company on the brink of change, the reining CEO, Frank Strata has been tragically killed and his son Andrew (Jordan Fraser-Trumble), prepares to ascend the throne mere hours after his father has been buried. As his wife Angie (Jessica Martin) does the majority of the heavy lifting to ensure the planned inauguration is perfectly executed things begin to come unstuck, first with the unexpected presence of whimsical cleaning lady Mariella (Siobhan Connors) and then by then by the boisterous intrusion of party boys Dave (Pat Moonie) and Barry (Mark Salvestro) who arrive in excellent spirits, post wake intent on making Andrew’s inauguration a night to remember.
North of Eight have consistently proven themselves to be an inventive and risk-taking company, and Strata Inc. is no exception. Written by local playwrights Laura Lethlean and Faran Martin, (Martin also directed the piece) Strata Inc. is a topical and provocative work that looks at the issues surrounding corporate culture in Australia and the world. Attacking topics such as the gender wage gap and misogynistic boys club culture of corporate Australia, Strata Inc. pulls no punches when discussing and dissecting these all too important issues.
The champion of which is Lysa, (Jessica Stanley) Andrew’s wayward half-sister intent on usurping the throne and becoming Queen of Strata inc. Lysa’s motives are either incredibly selfish or incredibly altruistic. Whatever they may be Stanley is sincere and gives a layered performance of a character that could be easy to hate, keeping the audience with her to the very end.
There are plenty of un-likeable characters in Strata Inc. characters that are all far too familiar as we see our own reflection within them. Is Dave simply a victim of his culture? Moonie plays him with a charismatic but volatile energy, a man on the edge, with everything to gain because he’s incapable of losing. A man so sure of himself, that when his belief system is finally questioned he unravels at an alarming rate. Joined by his sidekick Barry, Salvestro is the delightfully sweet straight man, whom despite his obvious privilege balances Moonie’s energy without losing his integrity.
Strata Inc. is a wonderful story, expertly written and directed, and casted with precision. And with every great story we require a hero, and fortunately we are given one in the way of Rachel (Phoebe Anne-Taylor) the long suffering butt-of-jokes and longest serving member of Strata Inc. Rachel rarely gets a word in amongst the in-fighting of siblings, wives and colleagues, but when she does, she makes it count and is a force to be reckoned with.
There is so much to love about this play; the writing which explores current issues plaguing our society, the performances of the actors that are so beautifully authentic you lose yourself in the suspension of disbelief.
Strata Inc. is something special, something genuine and I highly recommend you all head down to the burrow in Fitzroy before the season sells out and you miss out on this very extraordinary work.
North of Eight presents
Director Faran Martin
Venue: The Burrow | 83 Brunswick Street Fitzroy
Dates: 20 November – 8 December 2018