‘Twenty Questions’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by November 22, 2013

‘Twenty Questions’ is a fresh and exciting character study, written by Murdoch postgraduate, PhD student, Andrew Kocsis. Geraldton born, Andrew, is one of the founders of ‘The Revellers’ a theatre company that is now managed by lecturer Tiffany Wendt / Banner. Tiffany and sound engineer, Adam Dean, have a particular interest in the social conditions and self-esteem of youths who have lost their way.

With a special interest in Shakespeare, the theatre company’s mission is to entertain, engage and inspire the multitudes – especially the younger audiences.

This superbly scripted, 80-minute play is being performed to a general audience, before being toured around WA schools. It can be seen at the Nexus Theatre – near car park 3 – Murdoch University, 90 South Street, Murdoch at 8.00 pm, nightly until Saturday 23rd November, with one matinee on Saturday at 3.00 pm.

On a stage surrounded by black drapes, the floor has painted upon it, a white spider’s web. The ceiling is draped like a luxurious bower. Sitting and lying around on beds and cushions are five women, all dressed in bridal gowns (costumes Mandy Crooke). The scene is lit by a single, precisely positioned shoulder high, powerful flood that casts a golden glow across the whole scene (lighting by Aleesha and Joey McKenna-Green). A series of metronomes are ticking away at about 60 beats per minute, and then most of them stop and a single heartbeat pace can be heard throughout the play.

The youngest woman, Abigale (Cassee Lazic), is sitting in the corner plucking petals from a flower, and contemplating her marriage that will take place later that day. Across the room, the quiet philosopher, Julie (Sarah Courtis) is stroking her friend, Eve’s hair. Eve (Jenia Gladziejewski) is heartbroken girl who spends most of her day spouting the definitions of words mentioned in the conversation. This pedantic trait annoys Bailey (Clare Talbot) a bossy woman with a hundred chips on her shoulder.

There is an electrical crackling noise and dazzling white lights flicker. The ‘chief’, a matriarchal figure, Tracy (Tara Hoban) steps forward and tells her roommates that a new room guest is about to arrive. To the annoyance of Bailey, two women – again in bridal dresses – enter the boudoir. They are Alex (Ellin Sears), an angry young lady and Katie (Kate Raine) a young girl who had just died in a car crash.

Kate realises that all of the women present are in fact dead and that they are now in the anteroom to purgatory, awaiting a move to a more permanent resting place. Tracy appeared with a clipboard, and started asking the two new arrivals simple questions to start, such as ‘what was the last thing you remember?’, before moving on to more searching questions, that perhaps the audience should ask of themselves.

This thoroughly enjoyable play is beautifully structured. The dialogue is cleverly created to ensure that the seven characters, which are all very different, have strong individual personalities. This could have been clunky, especially when the director and the writer are one in the same, but Andrew has managed to transfer his thoughts to the stage perfectly. Because the excellent cast chemistry was well tuned in and worked as a team, the play flowed steadily and the intriguing storylines became lucid.

This was delightful story, magnificently written and performed. Congratulations to all. Highly recommended.