TICKET TO RIDE
How do you do theatre in a Maserati? Steve Cramer asks Italian dramatist Renato Gabrielli about a fascinating site specific piece at the Traverse.
Come on, fess up. You got home last night and no one had left a message on your land line. Nor has your mobile rung today. Doesn’t it make you feel a bit lonely? And you wouldn’t feel that way if you were driving home in a Maserati. Or would you? It’s an intriguing premise, and one explored in a very practical sense in Hush Productions’ rendering of this new play by Italian dramatist Renato Gabrielli. In it you get to be picked up outside the Traverse in a Maserati Quattroporte and ferried out of town in the company of two characters: a successful business man in crisis and his driver. The rub is that there’s only room for three in the back, so tickets will be at a premium. As an experiment in site- specific theatre, though, this looks like a winner.
Maybe what I’ve told you so far is enough to whet your appetite, but Gabrielli has a lot more to say about the project than this. In an era where possessions are an ultimate aim, this piece sets out to disprove our materialistic ethos, and not just in a bland, ‘money isn’t everything’ kind of way. Within the text, there’s an exploration of psychology and politics which designates Western social culture itself as the source of our anxiety and alienation. A big contributor to this is the mobile phone. The businessman has, as you’d expect, a very flash one, but what is its purpose?
Gabrielli, a quiet and rather unassuming presence, is sitting in the Traverse bar, describing the character he’s created. ‘He’s very proud of his status symbols. He refers a lot to his wonderful car and his new mobile phone. But he’s very much conditioned by these
MEN G'day, mate
A moving piece
objects. He can’t help but keep his mobile on, so although he wants to devote what might be his last minutes to his mistress, a kind of Madonna figure, an ideal for him, he keeps being phoned by other people. He’s phoned by his wife, people on business, and even a woman trying to order pizza, but there’s little time for real conversation.
It makes one wonder about the extent to which we are reified by the objects around us. Do you control your mobile, or does it control you? Gabrielli feels that these consumer objects prey upon us, making us their slaves through our own insecurity. ‘There are over 50m mobile phones in Italy; it’s a mania. It’s not quite as bad, I think in Britain, but it’s also a problem. People use their phones on trains just to say “I’m going to be home on time” or something like that. It’s linked with loneliness, and that’s how it works with this character. He feels a deep loneliness, but at the same time, he needs to be in touch with people all the time. But it’s not real communication, it’s just bubbling on.’
But how do you do a show in a car, with an audience of three? And how, given that the vehicle must make the same journey twice a day, does the timing work? Well theatrically, it’s quite an interesting experiment. Music will be used in significant moments, and parts of the show take place outside of the car. The effect of being a passenger in the back of the car means that an audience will see the piece from a particular and oblique angle, but for Gabrielli, this is an advantage. ‘The audience is very intimate with this man in one way, but at the same time, there’s no interaction. This puts them into the position of voyeur, which I think is important to the effect,’ he says.
Ride it and see.
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that examines the highs and lows of three sexy but ultimately dysfunctional
I'm struggling to take Jonathan Dutton seriously as an Actor. Capital A. He is. after all. in that risky transition from soap land to theatre player. I've seen the biog: I know the drill. Hell. I've seen the pristine press shot. In 0/ soap Neighbours he was 'l‘oadie's less ineinorable. but Infinitely more attractive little brother. Tad. l'he pretty boy looks are still there but I'm Willing to accept the boy may indeed have become a man. Until he spoils it. 'l'ni not too shabby. thanks inate.' he says in the most Ox-like of tones. Quick as a flash I'm back on the Neighbours set. soapy pup in hand.
To Dutton's credit he dispels iny fea's soon after. As part of an all Aussie cast. he's set to appear in Men. the iniilti a\.«'-rard—\.~riiining play by Australian drainatist Brendan Cowell
young men. Dutton plays the manic depressive drug addict in the trio. A depadure then? ‘l've done some theatre before but this is vastly different from any other character I’ve played. It's an Aussie piece in its entirety. The ‘Australiaiiisins' are all spot on; so many non 0/ casts try to create the 0/ humour and fuck it up. But this is true Australia'
But Dutton reveals that much of his comic inspiration is British-bred. 'l'he roots of Australian coinedy comes from Britain really: Black Adder. The Office and Faw/ty lowers are all huge. We Just want to take the best bits of black comedy and create something really good; not bugger it up. basically' (Victoria Haininettl I P/easance Dome. 4—25) Airg mot IO. 17; 4.05pm.
Re: Treadr'ng the Boards
YOU'LL HAVE NOTICED THAT
this week's theatre section has been devoted to some of the early opening Fringe shows for this year's Festival. But these are only a few of the shows that will flood Edinburgh a fortnight hence. So inevitably. Whispers is taken up with a COUple more. The emphasis here is not just on shows that start early, but those produced by smaller and yOLinger companies of quality who might Otherwise be lost in the rush of fringe coverage
ADAM BRACE, A YOUNG
writer who made a strong impression at last year’s Fringe with After Sex All the Animals Are Sad, the story of a psychopath in prison, and his relationship with the world, is back. This year he has a tale of an outwardly upright and religious man who shows himself capable of lies and unprincipled depravity. No, it’s not set at 10 Downing Street, but in Victorian Edinburgh. The young Royal Court writer has adapted Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde with an attention to the original tale which reasserts its love interest. That isn’t something you’ve seen much of in the film versions. Neither is the hypocrisy attached to the lead character, something we’ve seen too much of in our prominent public figures. This looks worth a see. 80. TOO. THE LIFT OFFERS A new play by the young writer Joy Wilkinson. The Aquatic Ape. Young Wilkinson has already produced her first novel. and With a number of literary awards to her credit. it looks gtiite a prospect. This piece on an embittered and dysfunctional COuple embarking on a seCOnd honeymoon in a shark infested bit of the Indian Ocean looks like it COuld provide dark humour of its own. Who Wlll become shark bate? Find out. It open on Wednesday. 4 August. and runs right through the Feshval
The Aquatic Ape
XL.” 5‘ >\t:t:.‘1\31 THE LIST 57