See article in its original contexte here by Ash Cottrell for Theatre People.
Fortyfive downstairs is one of my favourite art spaces in the city so when I get the chance to see a play there, I jump at the opportunity. I love the descent into the depths of the theatre from the street entrance and I’ve often wondered if there were forty-five stairs on the way down as well, but always forget to count. I find the steep stairs and the fairy lights dazzling on the way down and the anticipation for the looming performance grows as the set is revealed once at the bottom.
This time around the lower ground floor revealed a compelling set (designed by Christina Logan-Bell) that consisted of a large corrugated iron structure dominating the area. It looked rustic, rural and intrinsically Australian. It was also walked on by the audience as they were ushered to their seats and I started to wonder whether the show would be interactive. The set was sprawling and I thought as I sat in the front row how exciting it would be to have the actors cover such a large space. They did it well and to my credit, I chose the right seat to capture all of the drama.
Comedy/Drama would perhaps be a more apt genre description as there was plenty of comedic relief amidst the drama. At one point Fawlty Towers meets Dog Day Afternoon came to mind when a stick-up turned into a hilarious exchange as incompetent characters met stubborn and fearless ones. Indeed for me, it was the farcical moments in the play, performed with brilliant timing and physical comedy that were the most enjoyable.
Here, the stand out performers were David Kambouris who played the volatile, arms-dealing, dedicated dog owner, Richard and Elizabeth McColl who played the straight talking Aussie battler, Glenda. On this point, I loved this play’s willingness to be silly. Too often in my opinion, theatre plays the dark and serious notes and there doesn’t seem to be enough of the playful. In these stakes, True love travels on a gravel road delivered the goods.