Left – Jesse Dugan and Katie Robertson. Cover – Jesse Dugan and Katie Robertson. Photos – Amy Brown
This play by English enfant terrible, Nick Payne is a canny choice by the Tasmanian Theatre Company. It is an internationally acclaimed play that has attracted performers such as Jake Gyllenhall in its numerous productions on both sides of the Atlantic. Also, it is ideally suited to the limited resources of a small company as its physical demands can be small but great in impact.
The company has decided to stage this work in one of their “pop up” theatres and they make good use of a narrow space alongside the brewing vats at the Hobart Brewing Company. Their decision a few years ago to move some of their plays away from conventional theatres and into spaces around Hobart has been worthwhile. The unconventional settings seem to inspire great design and/or original staging that enhance the impact of performance and material.
In this setting, the principals of the now departed and much missed Loudmouth Theatre, Maeve Mhairi MacGregor and Katie Robertson have re-united under the banner of the TTC to invest this play with the verve and insight of their previous work. Here, MacGregor serves as director and she demonstrates a marvelous clarity of story-telling that means not a single moment of this dense and tricky play is missed. She is well served by her cast. Katie Robertson is luminous as Marianne. Her delicacy of touch means we shift effortlessly between the various shades of emotion demanded by her role. Jesse Dugan matches her beautifully in a role that may be a little less deftly written but which allows him still to reflect the many facets of this complex piece.
The play continuously reruns moments in a relationship which belong to possible parallel universes and which lead to wildly divergent outcomes. The actors and their director have opted for a simplicity that demands much from an audience. This is a good choice because, instead of complex effects indicating shifts in time or circumstance, we get an intelligent unfolding of the multitude of tiny variations and moments of choice that can lead to major differences in a life. These are all indicated through the skill of the performers and the strong hand of a director who never loses sight of the main game and the power of the over-arching intention of the writer.
The Tasmanian Theatre Company has delivered 12 months of exceptional theatre to Hobart audiences. I hope the company can continue this inspired choice of works under the direction of artistic director, Adam (Gus) Powers, along with this cleverness of presentation that depends not on flash and dazzle but on high calibre writing and quality performance.
Tasmanian Theatre Company presents
by Nick Payne
Director Maeve Mhairi MacGregor
Venue: Hobart Brewing Company, 16 Evans Street, Hobart TAS
Dates: 5 – 14 September 2019