Todd in Venice feels right at home in the space at La Mama. The rudimentary set, the makeshift props, the unabashed way the seams are showing lend everything a beautiful disrepair.
The audience wind their way around Todd (Alex Beyer) as they take their seats. He’s on holiday in Venice, while reading the novel, Death in Venice. Michael (Joseph Lai) arrives with his friend Agnes (Kate Hosking), and, despite the canals and other sights in a very old city, sets about trying to seduce Todd. Through it all, Venice continues to slip further into the sea.
Joseph did well as Michael, an endearing mix of nerves and confidence that suited someone arriving in a strange place and being instantly smitten with both it and a fellow traveller.
Alex gave a good performance as Todd. While he is the titular character, it’s more of an ensemble piece, and he had good presence throughout. Terry Cole provided music, and exposition – both in and out of the play – in a nice turn as Guido.
James Adler was very relaxed in his role of the Doge of Venice. Admittedly, there were moments where things got almost too casual, but for the most part his character stood in lovely unsettling contrast.
Kate Hosking was marvellous as Agnes. From when she first strode on stage in full tourist mode, to that beautiful final scene before golden light and final blackout – it was a wonderful performance.
There’s a sense of more to be found here in both the writing and the performance. It’s an exciting prospect, however, what’s already in place – raw, fun, poetic – makes for a very fine watch.
Writer / Director: Sofia Chapman Featuring: Kate Hosking, Alex Beyer, Joseph Lai, James Adler, Terry Cole Lighting Design: Annabel Warmington Set Design: Alana Hunt
Todd in Venice
La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street, Carlton
Performance: Wednesday 1 February 2017 – 6.30pm
Season continues to 5 February 2017
Information and Bookings: www.lamama.com.au
Image: Todd in Venice – photo by Annabel Warmington
Review: David Collins