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Theatre Review by Leonard Miller
What: Fortune, Inconsolable and Night
Where: Metanoia Theatre at the Mechanics Institute
When: 13th - 31st May
Written by Raimondo Cortese
Directed by Gorkem Acaroglu, Greg Ulfan and Leslie Simpson
Performed by Joseph Sherman, Nicholas Kato, Zoe Stark, Artemis Ioannides, Anna Burgess and Dennis Manahan
Taking over the management of the venue formerly known as the Mechanics Institute Performing Arts Centre in Brunswick, Metanoia Theatre have breathed new life into a theatre that was beginning to look and feel tired and suburban. Alongside programming and managing the venue for other artists, this new company also curates their own season. Fortune, Inconsolable and Night, three duologues by lauded Melbourne playwright Raimondo Cortese, is the second of these offerings and showcases direction by the three members of Metanoia’s artistic directorate.
Stripped back to an underplayed naturalism, Gorkem Acaroglu’s take on Fortune is an uneasy confrontation between the son and lover of a dead woman, two years after her passing. Nicholas Kato as the son, Vince, is a subtly menacing presence and gives a nuanced performance against Joseph Sherman’s somewhat effeminate Terry. The tension rises slowly and the piece is well paced. The set however looks plonked rather than placed on stage and the choice of a pink bathrobe for Terry further undermines what should be this character’s strength and masculinity. Despite these drawbacks this duologue remains both engaging and unsettling.
The second offering is Night, ably directed by Greg Ulfan. The highlight of the night, this work centres around a random conversation between two women in a nightclub. Artemis Ioannides is entirely believable as the young Natasha and delivers both the comic and the serious convincingly. The stand-out of the entire night however is the amazing performance by Zoe Stark as the jaded and very drunk Rachel. Playing drunk can be easy but Stark takes it to a new level and delivers a character that will truly need her stomach pumped as she leaves the stage. Ulfan has found humour and pathos and done justice to, what in the wrong hands, could be flat and clichéd.
Third up is Inconsolable. Set at a cafe, two strangers meet in an odd way and talk in riddles and half truths. Perhaps the most difficult of the texts, this piece lags. Neither actor is particularly convincing but the real disappointment lies in the direction. For almost the entire piece, the two protagonists simply sit fairly statically at the table and talk at each other. Leslie Simpson has brought little to the piece, and while his actors Anna Burgess and Dennis Manahan try valiantly, and their talent is apparent, they both seem to lack the motivation to lift the work to a more desirable pace.
While the sound design jarred and was unsuccessful, and the set and costume design throughout was also disappointing and appeared unconsidered, should the fledgling company give as much thought to these elements as they obviously do to the acting, direction and script choice in the future, this will be an entity to watch out for.
Still in its infancy, Metanoia promises great things to come. Catch them now and you too can say you were there when it was all starting.
3.5 stars