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Sunday, 28 October 2012


Independent company, Workhorse Theatre, back up their earlier debut 'That Pretty Pretty; or The Rape Play' with their latest offering, John Patrick Shanley's 1985 play, 'Savage in Limbo' at the Tap Gallery, Darlinghurst.

Director Stuart Maunder and the creative team have put together a fairly engaging show in this intimate space. It's another reminder how much talent is on the independent scene. I'm not convinced that Shanley's play is the strongest material to showcase the skills of the cast- it's full of what feels like monologues- and yet the play works best when they finally get to dialogue with each other.

Maunder has kept this play set in its original time and place, mid 80's in the Bronx. It is resplendent with designer Jasmine Christie's costumes, not to mention the terrifying memories of 80's make-up. The play explores the lives of three women, all ex-students from the same school, April White (Christina O'Neill), Linda Rotunda (Zoe Trilsbach) and Denise Savage (Katherine Beck). The women, all now 32, sit on the precipice of big decisions- to change, to fight the fear of change or to settle completely into the choices that have led them to this point. These characters are then 'bookended' by the two men in the play- Murk (Daniel Cordeaux) and Tony Aronica (Troy Harrison), each of them representing either the desperate need to stay exactly as they are or to change everything.

The play certainly has plenty of conflict but struggles to capture or sustain any tension and I am attributing that to the writing and its plethora of monologues that seem to halt action for much of the play.

But Beck, Trilsback and O'Neill are a great trio of actresses and really pump out the energy and passion of their character's dilemmas. Cordeaux took a small role and turned it into something very impressive and fun and Harrison warmed into the role of Tony. It's a tight acting company and although the play's 'larger than life' characters means that sometimes the portrayals felt like you were watching the acting more than the action, there are great moments too, especially between couples or duos in the play, like Murk and Alice and Denise and Linda.

I hope their next play allows them more opportunities to dialogue and interact as an ensemble rather than in a play dominated by solo pieces but it's worth seeing these talented performers and hopefully they'll continue to grow and experiment.

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