Review: Making Friends Collective double bill
Freddy is a comedian and has a drinking problem. Ana wants him to stop. Their relationship has problems but they love each other. Isn’t that enough?
I find the messy set – a bed with a couch backed on to the bedhead plus living items strewn around – appealing, reflecting as it does the messy lives of the characters. Jonny Potts makes a passable drunk (passout-able?) and is pretty good at showing the compulsion for pushing other people away which is a feature of his character. Rachel Baker is self contained in her portrayal of Ana. This works especially well in the final scenes. However she seems to swallow her words sometimes so even though I’m sitting close to the front I miss several of her lines. I like the direction by Adam Goodall – the space is used well, and the moments when the character connect are more poignant for the moments when they don’t. Unfortunately I’ve rather lost my appetite for love-should-be-enough-scripts so while the writing is smart and the performances good, I’m mostly disconnected from the whole thing. (For the opposite view please see this review from Wellington Reviews. I love that two so totally different experiences can be had from the same show.)
Brit visits her ex-boyfriend Scotty backstage while he’s working a show. She brings the wine, he brings the unpleasant memories.
Tom Clarke and Karin McCracken have a lovely rapport and it’s easy to believe their characters were once together. Clarke as Scotty rushes about the stage, always smiling, putting a positive spin on things – at least at the start. McCracken as Brit is more hesitant, almost visibly steeling herself to be more confident in the face of Scotty’s energy. The script has them needling at each other in good fun and then tipping over into not so much fun. I start to worry halfway through if this is too theatre specific but as the show goes on I realise it could apply to any relationship between two people which has broken apart. While they are working out how to relate to one another again, another character is working it on stage. Jacob Brown is Max, the performer ‘onstage’. Max represents Scotty and Brit in their early years of working in theatre – enthusiastic, willing to work long hours and perform in little known shows. Snippets of the onstage show blare out from the backstage speaker, usually heralding Brown’s frenetic dash backstage (onstage). Brown is wonderfully wide eyed in contrast to the other characters cynicism and provides some light relief while we wait to discover what went wrong in Brit and Scotty’s relationship. Stella Reid’s direction is excellent, ensuring that while the stage is busy we never lose track of what is going on.
Ngā mihi to Making Friends Collective for including contact details for a couple of support organisations in the programme for this well presented double bill. They write “These plays depict characters that experience the emotional stresses, negligence and many other consequences of bad relationships. As a result, these plays include potentially disturbing content.” It’s a positive move for audience confidence that companies presenting work of this nature recognise that it may be distressing for some.