Left – Thu Nguyen and Alison Benstead
Art imitates the artistic life in Simple Souls, Paul Gilchrist’s latest show for prolific production company, subtlenuance.
Presented on the top floor of an old bordello recently recycled into a tiny dance club, the space gives credence to one of the character’s enunciation, “this is not a theatre”. True, this space is not a theatre, purpose built, but for the purpose of this play it is practically perfect.
Marguerite is a woman on a mission. She has papered lampposts summoning actors to the space to engage in a game show of her making that spotlights the stupidity of contemporary society and the seemingly mass subservience to technology and social media. The old school advertising attracts a motley crew of performers, some seasoned, others starry eyed newbies. There is no audition, like life, they are cast in and must make do.
Julia Christensen as Trudy and Simon Lee as Tom, play the more experienced thesps, while the novitiates are played with naive awe by Thu Nguyen and Alison Benstead.
Madeleine Withington plays Marguerite, the writer, director, convener, deviser, with world weary poise, charmingly cheer leading her cast of contestants in a mock “reality show”.
Into this scenario, Lewis Scamozzi plays a hovering presence, a detached observer and abstract adjudicator, coolly monitoring proceedings, in direct contrast to the owner of the space, a busy body played by Lisa Hanssens, sometimes a mere head popped through a curtain, sometimes fully in the space, commandeering it, dictating what can and cannot be done within the space.
Simple Souls fizzes with philosophical ideas and social commentary, bubbling with an effervescent cynicism, the good kind, like good cholesterol, with high density laughs managing to dislodge the accumulating plaque of despair. Mr. Gilchrist may despair but his writing cannot dissipate his care.
Sarcastic, sardonic, satirical, Simple Souls, rails against the impotence of being earnest, firing off a playful salvo against the apparent dumbing down and lack of introspection in our world.
Written and directed by Paul Gilchrist
by Paul Gilchrist
Director Paul Gilchrist
Venue: Top Shelf | Fringe HQ, 26 Bayswater Rd, Potts Point NSW
Dates: 13 – 30 November 2019