Left – Hayden Burke, Catherine Ward, Bronte Carmichael, Heather Bloom, Leigh Scully
Where’s My Money? is a play which seizes your attention, where the handful of protagonists speak with brutal and callous honesty, interwoven with lies and deceit. A satire of marriage, divorce, unhappiness, infidelity and of course money, which features as a driving motivation of ones’ actions. The performances were riveting and the atmosphere that the 7th Floor Theatre Co. created was oppressive, leaving the audience on the jittery edge.
The play begins with a chance meeting of old friends/acquaintances Natalie played by Catherine Ward and Celeste played by Bronte Carmichael. Celeste confides in Natalie about her sordid affair with a man she barely knows asking for Natalie’s signature honesty. And this is where the play launches into brutal honesty which is the catalyst for a suicide and the seeing of a ghost, these two key events entangles the lives of all the protagonists.
We meet the character Henry played by Leigh Scully, husband to Natalie in his apartment reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky when Natalie arrives home. The reference to this book is poignant as it centres on the real-world consequences of your actions, where the main character steps across legal and moral boundaries for money. Similarly, Natalie has crossed moral boundaries for money, and from this unresolved past she is now facing the consequences of infidelity and lies. Leigh Scully and Catherine Ward have a great intensity on stage. The dialogue and interplay between the married couple is gritty and rough. Love and empathy are clearly omitted, exposing the individualistic motivation of our characters.
Upon hearing the indiscretions of his (second) wife Henry leaves the apartment and seeks the counsel of his lawyer friend Sidney, played by Hayden Burke. Sidney chastises Henry for not fulfilling his role as husband, explicitly Henry was at fault for his wife’s infidelity because infidelity is the husbands’ role and hence Natalie had now assumed the position of adulterer. Sidney is a despicable character confessing that his wife disgusted him so that he would hold his nose whilst having sex with her. Henry and Sidney are interrupted by a ghost, shattering Sidney’s sanity, forcing him to seek the solace of home.
There is no comfort at home for Sidney as his (second) wife Marcia Marie played by Heather Bloom struggles to hide her aggravation that Sidney is home early. Bloom plays a woman on the edge of insanity, her instincts about her husband are well founded, she throws all she can at Sidney – the conversation between the couple is unfiltered, there is no happiness, perhaps there never was. It’s no coincidence that both Sidney and Henry are on their second marriages, perhaps this is the root of cynicism directed at marriage. In the end ghosts are put to rest for our cast, and we feel a sense that justice has in part been served.
The Burrow in Fitzroy provided an intimate and functional space. The set and props were minimal for this production, although it is clear that great thought went into the set design. A temporary dirt floor was installed for the production, I assume as representation of perhaps the grimy and corrupted thoughts and actions of our cast. The actors used the dirt floor in various ways from scene to scene which added an extra dimension to the production. Again, with the choice of the bright red wall I suspect had an unspoken symbolism. In this arena red is the colour of danger, of rage, of warning, and of sex. Gender and sex are dominant themes in this play.
This play has stayed with me for days, both the themes of the play and the performances of the cast. It is the sort of play that deserves a second viewing, Where’s My Money? represents value for your buck. This is theatre at its grass-roots best, a highly commendable first production by 7th Floor Theatre.
7th Floor Theatre presents
Where's My Money?
by John Patrick Shanley
Director Beng Oh
Venue: The Burrow | 83 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Dates: 20 – 30 November 2019
Tickets: $20 – 30