’The Perilous Adventures of the Postman’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom.

by December 6, 2017

’The Perilous Adventures of the Postman’ is a hilarious, fast moving play written by Damon Lockwood on behalf of STAGE ONE, now in its 6th year. STAGE ONE is an initiative of Curtin University’s Theatre Arts’ Course, each year it offers a Western Australian playwright the opportunity to write, and premiere a new play, whilst providing acting undergraduates and technical students, with the experience of working in a professional environment.

About a decade ago, Lockwood appeared in a serial – Luke Milton’s ‘Across Hellfire’ – comprising six one-hour shows, presented over a few weeks; this series was possibly the fastest selling, and most hilarious set of shows that the Blue Room has ever presented. Lockwood has since been a stand-up comic, prize winning comedy writer, part of a very successful improvisation team, and an actor with a major theatre company that tours nationally.

This presentation by the ‘Theatre Arts at Curtin’ and ‘The Hayman Theatre Company’ can be seen at the Blue Room Studio Theatre, in the Perth Cultural Centre, James Street in Northbridge. The 70-minute performances are at 7.00 on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings until 7th December. On Friday and Saturday evenings the shows commences at 6.00 pm and 8.30 pm until Saturday the 9th.

 

The scene: It is the near future – 2020.

Set: the whole stage area was painted pure white. There are four, three-metre high, white panels in the shape and proportions of mobile phones. One panel is white gauze, allowing action to be seen through it. The designer Rhiannon Walker, who was assisted by Kiri Siva, has created an area behind the screens as a mid-scene, resting area for the actors. The set was solidly constructed by Travis Koch.

At various stages throughout the play, several well-designed videos and photographs (Jack Wilson) were projected onto the panels. As well as the stylish, Perspex chairs, there were a few special ‘outdated’ props that had to be sourced by Sian Creed, to add to the humour of the situation.

Karen Cook’s lighting design was bright and colourful, with quite a few special effects, which, when combined with the sound design of Sarah Connolly brought plenty of belly laughs. The flawless technical operation was by Samuel Addison.

Stephen Carr and Sophie Paice smoothly managed the production, and with a cast of sixteen making numerous entrance and exits, the stage was busy.

        A large group of teenagers are gathered in a huddle, each one is on their mobile – oblivious to their environment. Heather Kimberly (Lauren Beeton) is in a café preening herself by using her mobile as a mirror; she is joined by Zach Hildebrand (Sam Ireland) who has just been ditched, and with a quick touch of phones, they share contact details.

     Nearby, a psychologist, Deborah Lehman (Joanna Tu) aided by her workshop leader, (Chelsea Gibson), is trying to help youngsters break away from their ‘phone obsession. One man in particular, Scott Jenkins (Callan Hodge) has a literary fixation. Lehman has recruited a local postman, Isaac Nichols (Philip Miolin – Curtin’s Course Co-ordinator) – who is considered a weirdo for never using a mobile; he prefers to soak in the ambience, and how wonderful life is around him. Sadly, Isaac has two major problems, his nagging mother (Amber Gilmour), and the fact that the postal letter service is collapsing. In fact, Isaac’s autocratic boss, Ben Strong (Taylor Beilby), his daughter Emily (Bianca Roose), and an outdated technical nerd, Alexander Bainbridge (Ellis Kinnear) are the only workers left in the post office.

       A hippy girl, Jade Murphy (Maddy Mullins) has an almost Feng Shui approach to correcting the phone problem. As Isaac is trying to deliver an urgent letter for Detective Robert Clofield (Matthew Arnold), he meets several people in need, like Caleb O’Reilly (Samuel Addison) who has lost his mother (Molly Earnshaw). Even the shop assistant (Casey McMaster) is wary of serving poor Isaac, and then, when he meets the ashen man (Ming Yang Lim) our postman is wondering what has happened to this mad world?

 

Damon’s script has as its central character, an easy going, inoffensive, hardworking man, who is desperate to help people, but is now totally confused by life. The postman is perfectly played by Phil, as he staggers, blank faced, from one situation to another. Meeting with a dozen very different characters in the play, some are hyper, others just plain catatonic, and with the quick intercutting between them helps the pace belt along. Damon was most capably assisted in his directing by Sally Davies, who ensured that the special style of delivery was not changed. The cast teamwork was superlative, all actors being focused on a crisp, subdued delivery, and a well-developed characterisation.

With each of the sixteen actors having only a few seconds to demonstrate and confirm their personality, a careful choice of costumes was paramount. Well done costume designers, Bianca Roose and Casey McMaster.

I am sure that the students are fully aware of the tremendous skills of this zany director, Damon Lockwood; and that they will be able to think far more laterally in their writing and performances in the future.

It is great to see Damon still has the touch, and to have his inimitable style of writing, back in the Perth theatre. Loved every second of this hilarious energy packed performance.