The end of a long and harrowing school term is not the time to watch an existentialist crisis take place on stage because chances are, you’re already having one. Absurdist comedy ‘Perplex’, written by Marius Von Mayenburg in a translation by Maja Zade is a one hour and forty five minute journey of rolling scenarios between two couples where reality is constantly redefined and rejected. A succession of entrances and exits that begin each new interaction as characters role-play their new personality, relationships and situation and the room fills with the flotsam and jetsam and clutter of each scene sounds and feels exactly like my classroom. Eventually the play breaks into meta-theatre, aware of itself and us but still confused as to its own existence and consciousness. Well there’s last period on a Friday with Year 8 in a nutshell.
Director Sarah Giles and her cast- Andrea Demetriades, Glenn Hazeldine, Rebecca Massey and Tim Walter embrace the complexities and absurdities of the script and audience beware, some characters are unabashedly exposed during the play. Designer Renee Mulder’s setting of the 1970’s brown and eucalypt lounge room on a box stage, strewn with garbage, heightens not only the sense of how long time has passed in this continuous phase of unreality but also the sense of life and art intermingling to profess the mundane repetition of the human condition. Sartre would be proud. Hell really is other people. Mulder’s costumes are probably the most striking aspect of the play- it’s a fancy dress parade of characters on display.
I liked ‘Perplex’. I didn’t love it and it wasn’t always easy to sit through. The guy behind me loved it in a ‘laugh-through-your-nose’ kind of way. If you love Theatre of the Absurd, this is a really strong example of it. I think I’d rather suffer my existentialist crisis on a banana lounge by the pool with a cocktail in my hand.
Such is life.