20 years ago, Peter (Tim Constantine) and Kari (Katharine Innes) were the cutest couple at their school. That is, until Peter left when he found out Kari was pregnant. 20 years on, the heartbreak hasn’t diminished.
The walk through Abbotsford Convent to The Industrial School, on a balmy spring evening, feels almost as though you might be walking to your own high school reunion. Walking into the venue to find deckchairs, a trestle table of food, and the hottest hits of 1995 adds beautifully to this. I was almost tempted to pick up a glass and a couple of Cheezles and start mingling.
The story of Peter and Kari’s broken love takes place within the eponymous pavilion, where the reunion is held. At midnight – that magical hour of storytelling – the building is to be burnt down, to make way for a new development. Around all of this is the story of the universe, told in terms of the size of the pavilion it has become.
The script uses language beautifully and Byron Bache has captured the rhythm of that language. The sense of timing builds this show into a wave that you can easily let yourself be swept along on.
That wave is managed delicately by Innes and Constantine. Innes captures the sorrow that Kari still wears around herself, with an enduring stillness beneath which you can feel the chaos. Constantine carries the nervous awkwardness of Peter well. His desperation is palpable, and you’re never quite sure whether to cheer him on or hope that he just wakes up.
Pearson makes an admirable effort at playing the rest of the class. She has a lovely grasp of accent and an endearingly ‘adorkable’ manner. A little greater distinction in character, rather than accent, would have made it and some additional direction in the narration monologues may have made the performance more engaging and believable.
Overall, this is a delightful piece of theatre, that leaves a lovely still feeling in your stomach. It doesn’t ask you to hope, despair or even think. It just tells you a story and invites you to carry it home with you.
Director: Byron Bache Featuring: Tim Constantine, Katherine Innes and Claire Pearson Set Designer: Nicholas Casey Lighting Designer: Matt Osborn Costume Designer: Nico Wilsdon Producer / Stage Manager: Emma Caldwell
The Abbotsford Convent, 1 St. Heliers Street, Abbotsford
Season continues to 14 November 2014
Information and bookings: www.boutiquetheatre.com.au
Image: courtesy of Boutique Theatre
Review: Jennifer Piper