Ethan Switch - Friday, 13 May 2005
hundred hours comes and goes. The noise in the waiting area of the Stables Theatre would suggest that Hurlyburly might actually be a think piece with the audience providing their own action and spectacle. A scene wherein the hurly-burly of the performance stems from the frustration of the patrons as they wait and wait for the cast to set up the stage.
None of that really is. The show just happens to be running late. By at least thirty minutes. On opening night.
Hurlyburly starts with a man, Eddie (Ed Wightman), sleeping on a couch and absolutely shot out of a canon. Eddie is a wreck and the crack that opens the show nearly lets fly the front of the boxers. A Hollywood casting director who floods his life with people and objects as vain and shallow as the world he exists in.
Wightman snorts up a storm and hammers the nostrils with whatever happens to be that white stuff off of the mirror lying on the coffee table. His ability to swing his face from an apparently clear state of lucidity into one totally undone by the coke and toke is extremely impressive.
Sopping wet with all kinds of character slime and grease is Alex Dimitriades as wannabe actor Phil. Pivotal to the core of the story, his breaks with the wall twice throughout the night blows a tiny hole in the seamlessness of it all.
Dimitriades requests a line. A girl at the back scrambles and mutters, not knowing where in the script she's supposed to be. He runs back into the flow of steam, line almost at the ready. Again he calls. She's still fumbling. A guy over the other side of the theatre whispers the line and the play resumes. It's worth noting that on not getting the line the first time, Dimitriades almost looks like he's ready to run up to the girl and shake her down for not keeping up. Powerful acting, it could very well be Phil.
Donna (Penny McNamee) is this bubble of energy and light whenever she bounces into the apartment. She also looks like she's only a 12-year-old. Darlene (Emma Jackson) comes the closest to being as sleazy as the men are. Her two-timing of Eddie and Mickey swings back and forth with a deep starchy cigarette voice under a towering beacon that is her Berlin Wall of hair. Bonnie (Susan Prior), a stripper with a nose in the white sand, brings it all crashing home as she steps into the second half to usher a chain of events that will lead to the eventual fade to black.
Hurlyburly never fails to remind the audience that this is the decade of abundance and large gestures. David Rabe's script is a polysyllabic orgy feasting on dialogue. Laden with a constant sound of style in which everything is more important than the reality. The sheer weight and gloss of such mirrors the excesses of the eighties. Its as shallow as the characters themselves. Everything's big, everything.
Running along the three hour mark, it's quite possible that an hour of that is taken up with the undertaking of having to enunciate every word to all sounds of expressive impressiveness. Despite this, the few hiccoughs in the script at which three calls for "lines" are made come at points serving words under three syllables.
Amongst all of the noise, Artie (Felix Williamson) backslides a moonwalk as he and Phil recount their night out. Quite a funny moment that flickers for a second. Throughout the entire production, Mickey (Amos Szeps), remains relaxed and as level as the gel will allow his hair. He, along with Donna, don't actually break into a fit of rage or passion, standing solidly in their worlds as they possibly can.
Anachronisms shout out twice during the night. First is when a freshly made Donna is reading a magazine article on voice over IP technology. Later, as Mickey and Artie are scoffing fries from a Hungry Jack's. Their return from the break may have been as a result of taking their time, given that the old Kings Cross restaurant shut down a while ago.
Conversations between the characters spin around regret, dissatisfaction and loss at the world's ability to deliver them a meaning beyond "this." Copious moments of sharp and incisive wit foreshadow dark events barreling down at the far end of the night. With the lighting effects adding a subtle punctuation, the final reveal is that much more potent and rather depressing.
Filthy Hollywood excesses and promises to everyone leave the pastel suits flowing in the wind. Naked and dirty, it's inherently an examination of the destructive relationship between Phil and Eddie. Everyone else is just along for the ride.