What can you say? It’s been a spell. After far too many months devoid of live performing arts, 7th Floor Theatre with Cracked Actors Theatre take some of Melbourne’s first steps back on stage with a revived production of John Patrick Shanley’s Where’s My Money?
Some of the previous cast have returned (Heather Bloom, Hayden Burke, Catherine Ward) albeit not all in the same roles. Alexander Lloyd, Clare Hayes, and Hayden Burke (who also doubles as the Director this time around) fill out the rest of the cast in what proves to be a bombastic production of a story that only gets odder as it proceeds.
As disparate in tones as Shanley’s other plays (compare Doubt: A Parable with Danny & the Deep Blue Sea, for example) can get, what does not change is his mastery over scenes with two actors. As the story steps from two friends to a couple to colleagues to another couple, there’s conversation and conflict in equal measure.
Most of the characters are haunted – either metaphorically by their choices that have led them to the point that Shanley has us meeting them, or literally haunted. By ghosts. That attack (occasionally in slow-motion).
At the helm, Hayden Burke takes this longish one-act play and puts his foot down on the throttle, with every cue firing quick and sharp. It works for the most part, however, some moments would have benefited from a little breathing/thinking room as replies came so fast and perfectly formed the only impression conjured in places was of the page the text was originally memorised from.
As much as the rants and scene-change-covering-advertisements from the male characters were entertaining, it was the women who stole the show. Heather Bloom and Catherine Ward were splendid in their respective roles as Celeste and Natalie right from the opening of the play and along later escalations.
Further along, Clare Hayes playing Marcia lifted the show onto her shoulders with a magnificent, hilarious, and committed long running argument with husband Sidney (Hayden Burke) that answered the question of what it would look like if Edie Falco and James Gandolfini had ever found themselves in a screwball comedy.
Settling debts with the afterlife doesn’t have to be dramatic science fiction. It can be as fun, entertaining, and black-lit unhinged as 7th Floor & Cracked Actors presented here.
Where’s My Money?
Cracked Actors Theatre – Power House on the Lake, 34 Lakeside Drive, Albert Park
Performance: Tuesday 1 December 2020
Season returns: 15 – 20 December 2020
Image: Laurence Young, Catherine Ward, Alexander Lloyd, Hayden Burke, Clare Hayes and Heather Bloom – photo by Greg Bachurski
Review: David Collins