Dubious Intent

Lonely-Heart-Theatre-Company-presents-Dubious-IntentHow do you end a friendship? Dubious Intent, written by Callum O’Mara, directed by Luca Catalano and starring Ned Mathers and Brody McCarthy, starts at that endpoint.

In a one-hour conversation between two young writers who work in a study room together, they explore their false assumptions about one another, ending in a series of failed bids for a loyalty that no longer exists. As Lonely Heart Theatre Company’s promising first original production, the play comes from Melbourne with two successful productions in 2023.

It’s also a play about creativity in the context of neurodiversity. Playing Jesse, Ned Mathers delivers a charismatic performance of a character driven by ADD. Jesse is passionate to do things his own way – he wants to travel Europe with his girlfriend.

Brody McCarthy shines in his brooding, sophisticated performance of Michael – he wants the opportunity to work in New York. At one point Jesse accuses Michael of having autistic tendencies. The diverse communication styles heighten the conflict in values and goals.

Both characters’ failed bids for affection (Jesse) and loyalty (Michael) heighten the sadness and sweetness of this youthful production. Near the end Jesse makes a bid for affection. He invites Michael out for a beer. But it’s not Jesse’s bid for connection that falls flat but his understanding of Michael’s values. Michael says he doesn’t enjoy partying.

Their dialog is rapid and engaging. It’s sometimes difficult to clearly hear what they’re saying. At the highest moment of defensiveness and contempt for one anothers’ life choices, Michael bids for Jesse’s loyalty. He softly speaks about their once-shared dream of living in New York, but the theatrical production values speak for them.

At many points I struggled to hear the dialog. A rapid-fire patter of Jesse’s phone calls to his girlfriend, both characters’ furious interruptions, and Michael’s many literary quotes underscored the differences between the characters and the unique difficulties of communicating in a fast paced technological world.

You’ll love this play if you are a younger audience fascinated by neuro-diverse and creative relationships. It features a sensitive and candid exploration of boundaries, beginnings and endings. When both loyalty and affection fail to end a relationship in a deliberate and kind way, what is there left to do but walk away?

Dubious Intent
The Garage International @ Adelaide Town Hall, 128 King William Street, Adelaide
Performance: Saturday 9 March 2024
Season: 9 – 11 March 2024
Information and Bookings: www.adelaidefringe.com.au

Image: Lonely Heart Theatre Company presents Dubious Intent (supplied)

Review: Paul Bard