Chi Vu’s script resembles Adaptation in some ways with its lead character a playwright struggling to find a way to write herself into a story in a way she’s satisfied with. There’s shades of Minority Report as well (the swiping!), suggesting a setting of a near or tangential future.
However, over the course of the play, the audience begin to understand that this is a story with a smaller scope but larger heart – the playwright one half of an interracial couple navigating their day-to-day with plenty of laughter, while the playwright struggles to write something that speaks to an authentic Asian experience in Australia.
Above the set waves Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat, lit by a lone golden light. Below is a wide yellow ring with an open mic on a stand in the centre. A circus ring? A bowl (Pho is a recurring image in the play)? A life preserver? One of the strengths of the production is in what Neil Gaiman calls, “Soft places,” those areas where things are ambiguous. Didacticism’s rarely an attractive quality in a script, and Chi steers well clear from obvious hammer holding for bashing theme over an audience’s head. It’s good writing, backed by good performances.
Annie Lumsden was brilliant in and around the circular stage. She had great energy and physical commitment throughout, executing sudden emotional turns with the greatest of ease. She had good chemistry with John Marc Desengano, who was also given similar emotional acrobatics to navigate. Roll up, roll up.
There’s a compelling decision in the casting, and a final coda to the play that were both pleasant and fascinating surprises. The only disappointing thing about the show was the near 30-minute delay in starting, with no explanation or apology. But, once the doors closed, the audience soon came back on side. If you like your comedy with a little depth and bite, get to it.
La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street, Carlton
Performance: Sunday 9 April 2017 – 4.00pm
Season continues to 16 April 2017
Information and Bookings: www.lamama.com.au
Image: John Marc Desengano in Coloured Aliens (supplied)
Review: David Collins