The Give and Take: Another Review

The Give and Take. The Street Theatre. Continues till Saturday. Review by Random Git.”

After a late arrival via The Canberra Theatre to The Street Theatre, I settled in for a night of hilarity and a study of the meaning of family.” What I got were a few good laughs and a story that couldn’t seem to cut the ties from it’s premise to properly examine and solve it’s dilemma.

That’s a big statement to make.” This is, after all, a fairly seasoned play that has done the rounds.” Maybe it was the performances that failed to draw me in but I left feeling a slight disappointment in what could have been a great story.

You see, the story itself centers on Don, a late-aged alcoholic ready to retire and travel the world with his wife of 29 years.” She leaves him at the eleventh hour to seek passion in Tuscany and with her goes his last link to a life outside the office.” His three children remain apathetic and unsympathetic to his plight.” He decides to take his life.” Through the urgings of his best work mate, whose fortunes are tied to Don’s success, Don forgoes suicide so he can attempt to reconnect with his aloof children.” Fortunately for him, they are as equally hopeless as he and financially dependent on him to fix their own problems. ” How does he try to reconnect”? By throwing himself into his work with twice as much gusto so he can score that big promotion and bribe his children into giving a shit.” From this point of contradiction, the story nose dives.

The play spends little time getting to know who Don’s children have become and therefore how to reach them.” Don spends most of the play at the office, dodging and weaving around his boss’ expectations.” His sycophant workmate babbles and babbles.” He spends little time with the children who treat him like gold for his money, but only to his face.” The play gets to the last ten minutes and realises it has to solve the dilemma.” How does this happen”? Abruptly, simply and with no impetus for change or epiphany in any of the major characters.

Though these events were ripe with comic lines and comic performances.” Being advertised as a comedy I suppose this puts my critical point into perspective,” because I laughed a lot.

At this point you must forgive me not being able to name the performers as I was in such a hurry upon arrival that I neglected to pick up a program.

Don was a learned old school nerd providing genius to his company’s success while trying not to sink into the social slap dash that he has never quite understood.” His pithy and ironic rejoinders caused more than enough laughs, though the highs and lows of his emotional state could have been more sharply expressed.

Jim as his sycophant sidekick was a wonderfully supportive rat.” Manipulating Don’s every word of defeat back against him to push him on to his least desired goal.” Desperate and effervescent to the last.” But the character did belabor certain exchanges such that I stopped noticing what he was saying.

AJ was a treat.” Imposing and insulting yet smooth and charming.” The sort of person whose position of power has left him without criticism for far too long.” Watching him use Jim as a homo erotic door mat was a guilty delight.” The spa masturbation moment was, however, the one unfunny low point for AJ.

Julie put out the best performance of the younger players.” The portrayal on stage was in perfect alignment to the character on paper.” Malfunctioning and strung like a harpsichord, unable to perform in both her professional and social life.” Her psychotic outbursts and observations always ripped back the truth of any exchange in true comic fashion.” Though not by choice.

Neil was the leftist layabout still living at home and struggling to keep his girlfriend, Penny, in his bedroom with legs akimbo.” I felt like the this character was written by someone not really sure how to picture a real anarchist so opted for a sloppy impersonation instead.” Which is much how he was played.” This character just annoyed me every time he opened his mouth and engaged in buffoonery instead of hyperactive yet suppressed violent intent.” The girlfriend Penny, however, fit the mould better than him.

Damien was flat.” A try hard ‘street’ gym junky with questionable associates and steroids on the brain.” Played wrong, like a flaccid advertising exec, by the performer.” I didn’t believe him a minute he was on stage.” Even his steroid induced sneaky poo portrayals lacked a moving bouquet.

So in conclusion, would I say it’s worth two hours of your life”? Yes, I would.” Would I say it’s worth thirty dollars of your money”? Not at all.

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