‘Armour’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by April 24, 2015

‘Armour’ is the latest offering from London born (sadly a West Ham supporter), now an admired WA writer, Tom Jeffcote. Equity nominated Tom is known to most audiences for his notable play, ‘Picasso’s Goldfinch’; however, he started his writings with a textbook for drug counsellors, and this is the scenario that he has now expanded into his stage play, ‘Armour’.

This 610 Production is presented by The Blue Room Theatre and can be seen in the Studio Theatre, Blue Room, 53 James Street, Northbridge. The 95-minute performances are nightly at 8.30. The season finishes on Saturday 9th May, a couple of days before Tom’s birthday.

There is an AUSLAN interpreted performance: Thursday 30th April.

Welcome to the new publicity manager, Kimberley Fulton.

 

The scene is the interior of a Scout Hall in the middle of the wilderness.

The set (designer Sally Phipps) is exceptional, with cream walls, wood panelling on the lower half. The numerous scouting props from flags, photos and wooden benches give a most convincing scout group venue.

Lighting designer Chris Donnelly has chosen old utility-style lighting, which, along with interesting soundscape by William Langdale and the stage manager, Emily Stokoe, created some surprise special effects.

 

       A slightly daggy, middle-aged man, Neil (Matthew Kiely) is preparing the scout hall for his bonding weekend away with the boys. Neil is an idealistic but dedicated, hospital psychologist who has decided to try a new approach to communicating with his clients.

       The hall door bursts open and in walks leather clad, rock and roller, Robbie (Ben Weirheim), a musician who was big 10 years ago but is now unknown and having home problems. A few seconds later, a quiet, nervous young lad enters. This is Mawkie (Danen Engelenberg), a recovering druggie who has just had bad news. The last to arrive is Quentin (Joel Sammels), a powerful looking man, who is ex-SAS and newly returned from a Tour overseas.

        It is obvious that none of the patients / clients really wish to be there, so what chance has Neil of getting them to bond?

 

I always cringe when a writer is also the director of his / her own play, as it is uncommon to find a person that can do both credibly. Tom Jeffcote is one of the rare breed who can succeed. He has created four very different characters and developed their personae beautifully. Tom’s dialogue was perfectly structured for each character, helping to ensure that we have a genuine interest and care for their welfare. For example, it is revealed that Mawlie is highly intelligent, but with no self-esteem, he has nervous twitches and exhibits the constant scratching of a druggie.

The actors have really worked hard on their characterisation, and did not let their façade drop for a second in this fast moving 90-minute production. Their stories were interesting, the acting very good and the production slick; fascinating as it was I am not sure however, that the overall topic is strong enough on its own. As a subplot, this would give great depth to another story or theme.

The result was admirable in all aspects.