Posted by Seanna van Helten
15. Aug, 2012
David Hare’s The Blue Room is a dramatic deconstruction of sexuality and desire in ten acts, and it’s a play that has always caused a sensation. Based on a turn-of-the-twentieth-century text by Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler (but banned from the Viennese stages after opening night), Hare’s play is perhaps most infamous for offering glimpses of Nicole Kidman’s derriere when she performed in its Broadway debut.
But 5Pound Theatre’s intimate production, directed by Jason Cavanagh, proves that Hare’s supple writing survives sensation. This is a quiet show, tucked inside the terrace shopfront of performance venue The Owl and the Pussycat, and yet, for that reason, is an apt, unshowy vessel for Hare’s subject matter.
The play is a virtuosic two-hander. One male actor and one female actor each play five characters, linked by degrees of sexual separation. Part of Hare’s interest is how desire transcends (or is often fuelled by) social class: a cab driver sleeps with a girl between fares, and in the next scene picks up a French au pair; she is seduced by her employer’s son, and then he, in the following scene, sneaks a politician’s wife up to his room, and so on.
Under Cavanagh’s direction, performers Kaitlyn Clare and Zak Zavod have complete control of this material. They masterfully slip in and out of their various characters, but are also at the helm of all the scene changes, flipping furniture around and hurriedly changing costumes between acts. As a result, each scene (designed and lit by Rob Sowinski) is distinct and evocative, but these segues can lag. A simpler design in this small venue may have tidied up those transitions, and concentrated the focus instead on Hare’s writing and the leads’ excellent performances.
The Blue Room is playing at The Owl and the Pussycat until August 18.
For more information and tickets visit www.5pound.com.au/whats-on.htm
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