Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Blind Giant is Dancing - WAAPA (18 March 2017)

Hail and well met second year acting students! I look forward to getting to know your work invidually and as a collective over the next two years.

Your inaugural public performance in the newly refurbished Roundhouse Theatre accompanied by a welcoming 80's Greatest Hits soundtrack (it's been a while since I've heard a song by Kajagoogoo... actually, did they record more than one?) was certainly ambitious. A tale of the disintegration of a man, dressed up as a political drama; the disintegration of a marriage; and the disintegration of a family.

That all three strands swirled around the one character meant that Adam Marks who played Allen Fitzgerald had an enormous workload and acquitted himself well.

Here's the thing though. I simpy didn't like Stephen Sewell's writing. Characters felt more like positions than organic people; the political shenanigans were confusing with a late plot twist that was implausible; the dialogue was overly florid and didactic; and the interpersonal relationships verged into melodrama and didn't feel credible.

The play, at over two and a half hours, was also very long with those three strands only briefly intersecting to add any sort of dramatic heft. There were a lot of philosophical musings about love, religion, truth and freedom all coloured through a political lens that was hardly subtle.

Having said that, alongside Marks, I liked the work of Lily Stewart who played Fitzgerald's wife and was saddled with a lot of the clumsiest dialogue. The role demanded a range of emotions and while early scenes were a little awkward she handled herself with increasing confidence.

Others to impress were Michael Cameron as the main political antagonist; Jimi Rankin's initial scene played with scene chewing relish; Luke Smith's Ramon, Chile accent and all, though having the most socialist character be a Chilean exile was symptomatic of the overt nature of the piece; and Jarryd Dobson came into his own in the second half as the younger Fitzgerald brother. Thomas Jackson and Jessie Lancaster had their moments as the Fitzgerald parents.

The set was cleverly constructed with several compartments and sliding panels and it was a stylishly costumed show, the men's suits in particular.

It was an interesting introduction to this class who showed plenty of promise but ultimately the play didn't resonate for me.

*originally published at

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