Posted by Seanna van Helten
20. May, 2013
As Elvis Presley croons in the song from which Jane Miller’s comedy takes its name, the path to love is anything but smooth. Winner of the R E Ross Trust Playwrights’ Script Development award in 2011, True Love Travels on a Gravel Road explores the lengths ordinary people will go to in the pursuit of love.
In a remote country town, a secret affair is brewing. Unhappy bride Maggie (Emily Goddard) is a dreamer and a devout Elvis fan, and she’s fallen in love with Jake (Glenn van Oosterom). Poor, underestimated Jake is the local loser; even if he could tell anyone about his affair with Maggie, no one would believe him, least of all Maggie’s outspoken mother, Glenda (Elizabeth McColl).
Meanwhile, Jake’s employer Sam (Chris Broadstock) is having love troubles of his own. He and his beautiful wife Angie (Marnie Gibson) have been trying to reignite their love by relocating to the small town and starting over.
When Maggie convinces Jake that they should run away to Graceland, Jake embarks on a not-s0-clever plan to raise the cash. Will he and his beloved live happily ever after?
Miller has a fine ear for dialogue, tuned keenly to laidback Australian patter and the idiosyncrasies of couples’ talk. The misfires and misunderstandings between each pair of lovers are also the play’s main source of humour: what one person means and what the other hears during a lovers’ tiff.
Director Beng Oh draws out these funny moments, exploiting his actors’ comic strengths and pushing their characters to stylised extremes. Goddard’s portrayal of Maggie’s naive yet knowing manipulation of the adoring Jake is a particular highlight.
The script’s surprises are some bleak twists towards the end, shifting the play into something like a tragic farce. The path to true love, it seems, is not just gravelly; there are boulders strewn about as well.
True Love Travels on a Gravel Road is playing at fortyfivedownstairs, Flinders Lane until June 2.
For more information and tickets visit: www.fortyfivedownstairs.com.
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