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Penelope

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Without a hint of explanation, Irish playwright Enda Walsh sets the Australian premier of Penelope in an abandoned swimming pool, adding welcomed mystery to the dark comedy. Four men dressed in rather revealing speedos are the last of thousands fighting for the possibility of Penelope’s love as she waits for her long lost husband Odysseus to return. With bloody remnants of hopeful suitors that previously awaited the unseen beauty, the unlikely characters await their bleak future.

Between mixing cocktails, eating sausages and tossing twisties, the motley crew argue incessantly over the obviously unattainable female prize. The cheeky dialogue is deliciously crass, driving the testosterone dominant play forward delivering a humorous view into the character’s wildly different personalities.

The strain of human psyche becomes increasingly prevalent as the men discuss their approach to attaining Penelope’s love. Quinn (Lyall Brooks) plays the role of the bully, creating tension emotionally and physically, which progresses the story along nicely. Contrasted by the fumbling intellect Fitz (James Wardlaw), the overly camp Dunne (Dion Mills) and the young, vulnerable Burns (Matt Whitty), each player in this terminal game formulate the ideal pressure cooker environment that has the audience laughing out loud.

Trapped like rats, set designer Peter Mumford creates a fantastical space for the Red Stitch’s production with discarded shopping trollies and lawn chairs that contribute greatly to the overall mindset of the characters. While Tom Backhaus adds a delightfully humorous addition to the isolated space, by including the Benny Hill theme and Zorba the Greek in closing scenes.

Director Alister Smith successfully delivers this unique modern-day tragedy that is a must-see for the avid and casual theatre goers alike.

Penelope is presented by Red Stitch Actors Theatre at Theatre Works, 14 Acland St, St Kilda until April 13.
For more info and tickets visit redstitch.net.


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