Melbourne’s Feat in Space Theatre Company brings The Piano Thief and Receivers to the Old 505 Theatre in Surry Hills for a double bill written by Gareth Ellis.
A space platform was the final setting of the inspired lunacy that was Receivers, where Hedrick (Mathew Young) struggles with best farming practice and engages the advice (plus some unsolicited commentary) from a bizarre panel of people, who may or not be figments of his imagination. When his farm is in peril, he is at a loss as to what to do.
His imagination is fueled by copious amounts of Cheech & Chong style weed, which is also affecting the others. After he partakes of this, he goes into full-scale paranoid meltdown and he is soon on the Latin 4 space platform. Or he thinks he is, with the characters that he has been engaging with: the Satellite man, the General, a prostitute, and Hillary (who also receives messages from the television).
The Piano Thief begins on a promising note and more down to earth setting: petty crims David (Tom Milton) and Mitchell (Mark Tregonning) are about to break into a house that they’ve been casing. Mitchell wants to steal the piano and doesn’t see the preposterousness of this plan. Once inside David has an epiphany and calls a halt to the endeavour. Back at the pub, part two of David’s epiphany is revealed, and it is even more out there than his decision to abandon a life of crime. Mitchell is stunned by David’s about face, leaves his mate as David plans his upcoming wedding.
Absurdist theatre or surreal nightmare? Sound more than a bit odd? Both plays had odd in abundance. I enjoyed the Piano Thief, but struggled with Receivers: the play seemed less about space travel and more about the trips that people take in their own minds, especially when exposed to prohibited substances. Still, out of left field characters and creative plots take the audience on quite a fun trip with dream-like sequences that were refreshing in their ingenuity. Lively performances needed little in the way of set adornment.
Several of the actors played dual roles, Tom Milton, Mark Tregonning and Eva Torkkola appeared in both plays, all proving their versatility. Highlights? Torkkola was disturbingly good as Hillary, a mental patient who joins the madness in and out of space during Receivers.
But enough space chatter, I must get to the shuttle and off to Blog-On 5 where arts funding is in peril!
The Piano Thief and Receivers are on until 23 August, for more information and tickets see: http://www.venue505.com/theatre.
Featuring: Mark Tregonning, Tom Milton, Mathew Young, Eva Torkkola and Sophie Kelly.
Creative Team: Amanda Falson and Gareth Ellis.