The psychotic flipping and squeaking of brightly coloured toy dogs while a pizza guy looks on in a daze – it’s a curious opening. And it only gets better. Mr. Kolpert is black comedy – it is good comedy. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t always take well to the macabre.
Mr. Kolpert. Is he missing? Is he dead? This play is a classic whodunit and why featuring pizza and UV lights. It’s the party you want to be invited to. Speaking of lights, Benjamin Brockman did a fantastic job isolating certain moments to suspend the action in an absurd hyper reality.
In the beginning, we meet Ralf Droht (Tim Reuben) and Sarah Kenner (Claire Lovering) in their dull, dingy flat. And we soon learn that Edith (Paige Gardiner) and Bastian (Garth Holcombe) have been invited over for dinner. “For entertainment.” As the couples feast on pizza, at long last, we are presented with a feast of absurdity and it is delicious. Is Mr. Kolpert dead or is it all just a sick joke? Is there comfort in either answer?
David Gieselmann’s writing (translated by David Tushingham) keeps us on our toes the whole 80mins. It’s as if Tarantino had collided with Ionesco. All under James Dalton’s action packed direction with Scott Witt’s fight choreography. It’s a pretty fun combination.
Paige Gardiner’s characterisation of Edith Mole is outstanding but her finest moments are often the unscripted ones. She establishes a reserved and obedient character and then absolutely subverts our expectations. Her laughs and reactions to everything are priceless, honestly, priceless. And Tim Reuben doesn’t hold back when testing her. The two have settled the playful dynamic perfectly.
Garth Holcombe is wonderfully funny as the awkward and rigid husband next to Paige, and Claire Lovering is a sweet match for Tim Reuben, reeling in a few laughs from the audience too.
But The Pizza Man (Edan Lacey) takes the topping. In his brief moments on stage, he was greasy and I loved it. He was everything he needed to be. Baffled, cheap, hungry – he nailed it.
The personal narratives of all the characters were an interesting touch. Ralf and his chaos research, a nice addition to the chaotic and anarchic events unfolding before us. Bastian as an architect, perhaps in more than one sense of the word – his involvement or lack thereof and the interesting correlation between the confined and monotonous set (Antoinette Barboutis) and his desire to create a world beyond…
The play leaves us in this world of chaos and violence, which we, much like the characters, are unable to escape. But, thankfully, we are numb to the gore. The potential murder is never truly felt by the audience. Or by the characters. Ralf’s classic line “It feels normal” encapsulates how I felt – it didn’t feel unusual or repulsive, it was sort of…ok. If anything, the nudity was more shocking. Perhaps just a question of maturity or what subject matter frequents our screens, but seeing three actors stark naked is never a comfortable moment. Likewise, the audience seemed more squeamish at the sight of skin than at the suggestion of a gruesome murder.
The play exposes the familiarity of suburban boredom but propels it into wonderfully new territory. It is altogether absurd and it poses questions about the “civil” nature of our society. In a world that has slowly become desensitised, we are no longer confronted by violence or horror but rather by the prospect, or perhaps the presence, of boredom. It consumes us and slowly reveals the symptoms of a world defined by dislocation and anxiety.
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