‘Underground’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by February 17, 2016

‘Underground’ is a world premiere drama by the much-admired WA writer, Vivienne Glance. This play features original songs and lyrics, also written by Vivienne, with musical director and composer, Ethan Tomas adding the music. The composition and arrangements supervised by Daniel McMillan. The show is a Follow That Cat production, supervised by Natalie Di Risio.

This  50-minute, adult show is part of Summer Nights for 2016 FRINGE WORLD, and can be seen each night at 6.00, until 20th February at the Blue Room Studio in James Street, Northbridge.

 

The scene is an old fashioned bar, with tasteless tables and chairs. To the side of the bar is a wall, which every time an unpleasant event takes place, another glowing crack creeps from the floor to the ceiling, depicting how the situation is fracturing. The clever lighting and set design is by Liam Kirwan.

        Esther (Bethwyn Legg) has owned and run The Cellar Bar for a decade, but now it is about to close, and Esther is looking forward to opening her new, upmarket club. Seated, in the corner strumming on his guitar – as he has done for years – is Max (David Gregory).

       Into the bar strolls stunning Rhizzy (Dixie Johnstone) the club’s jazz singer. She walks up to the microphone and purrs her moody and deeply emotional songs. Max is furious, as the previous night – half way through her performance – with no warning or explanation, Rhizzy had walked out.

       The bar door flies open, and in stomps Esther’s heart-broken Uncle Zac (Keith Scrivens). He is still grieving the death of his young daughter, who died on this day some years earlier. There is an ‘elephant in the room’ atmosphere, but no one is too sure why.

 

Director, Peter Clark, has built up a wonderful mix of tension and curiosity, as the skilfully constructed play unfolds. Dixie had a superb voice, and a style matched perfectly to the lyrics. The acting ranged from love and caring, to pure belligerence, and the audience certainly felt for the characters’ suffering.

This is a very unusual play, powerfully presented by a top-notch cast. Another hit for Vivienne Glance.