Sex Object opens with couple Veronica (Charlotte Devenport) and Ben (Charlie Falkner) awaiting the arrival of her brother Gustav (Andrew Hearle) after the death of their father. Ben grows increasingly more agitated, though his over-wrought condition seems unlikely to be caused solely from the prospect of meeting Gus. They are in the home of Veronica’s late father, an artist whose sexually provocative art causes some consternation to the uninitiated.
Director Michael Abercromby describes writer Charlie Falkner’s Gen Y archetypes as selfish, entitled and contradictory. You could also add lazy, spoiled and shallow to some of the characters, though I would hardly deem these traits as being exclusive to this generation. Gen X, the Baby Boomers and beyond have all produced their fair share of self-obsessed, narcissistic lay-abouts. These traits in Falkner’s hands ultimately lead to a very amusing play.
Emotions run high throughout, Ben is already sobbing quietly on stage before the play officially starts. Charlie Falkner garners laughs while he struggles with emotion, he trys at the same time to placate Ron (Veronica), who is mourning her father. Charlotte Devenport is wonderful: she is strikingly composed and very funny as the neurotic Ron. There are no weak links in the show, Grace Victoria as model-like Kate is fantastic but Andrew Hearle as the enigmatic and narcissistic Gustav really steals the show. His exaggerated posturing is hilarious – he is the perfect foil to a stunned Falkner. The high emotions that drive the drama are hard to sustain though and the play suffered a bit of a lag midway through.
A concern in this play is that Gen Y, for all their technological savvy, don’t possess the language or inclination to talk openly about the prevalence of pornography and its impact on people’s lives. I don’t know if the lack of dialogue stems from that, or if it isn’t just a widespread conservatism among Gen Y. We tend to find the language we need when we are ready to have a discussion about a topic, and not before. Generally speaking, however, people are squeamish talking about porn. It is like talking religion, many don’t want to confess where their predilections lie. When Ben’s predilections are exposed, he turns the tables in Sex Object in an inspired twist which is only possible due to the pervasive over-reliance on social media.
I overheard one audience member observe afterwards that Sex Object was a little on the long side, but only by seven minutes. Exactly seven, no more no less – I had to laugh at this precise estimation One thing is certain about Sex Object (those crucial seven minutes notwithstanding): Charlie Falkner knows how to write dialogue that appeals to audiences across the board, no matter what letter comes after your generation.
Presented by JackRabbit Theatre, Sex Object is on at the Depot Theatre, Marrickville from 19-29 April, for more information and tickets see: http://thedepottheatre.com/sex-object
Featuring: Charlotte Devenport, Charlie Falkner, Andrew Hearle and Grace Victoria.
Creative Team: Michael Abercromby (director), Charlie Falkner (playwright), Loredana Cross (producer), Louise Mason (lighting), Madeleine McWilliam (stage manager) and Shaynee Brayshaw (theatre artwork).