Skip to main content

Roadkill Confidential

Photo by Emily Elise

Lies, Lies and Propaganda in association with baKEHOUSE Theatre Co. Presents ROADKILL CONFIDENTIAL by Sheila Callaghan at the KX Theatre, Kings Cross Hotel, Level 2 William St 11Nov – 28 Nov.

Well, I just saw ROADKILL CONFIDENTIAL by American writer Sheila Callaghan up in the revamped theatre space up at the KX (Kings Cross) Hotel and had a fairly good time BUT had no idea what the Hell was going on, and what it was about when it had finished. However, the Actors and the Director are so convinced that they know, what Ms Callaghan is about, their concentrated actions, verbal and physical, are so confident that I was forced to jump on board and shake and rattle and roll my way through it all. One stays glued to the rolling out of the play, endowing every actors’ owned moments with clarity and logic in a frantic act of faith to believe with them – and hey, it is intriguing, laden with ironic intelligence and deliciously glazed in an arch-comic perspective. I recommend that you go, for it will provoke conversation for hours afterwards. Maybe Days and Days. I found it stimulating, exciting – wow, a shock of a new voice giving a buzz after sitting in the theatre. How unusual is that in Sydney!

Ms Callaghan is one of the new breed of writers on the Off and Off Off New York Broadway scene. She has emerged from RAT: Regional Alternative Theatre (don’t you love it, RAT? RAT, Ha!) Her most famous play is THAT PRETTY, PRETTY; or THE RAPE PLAY (2009) and she has been a writer for Television: Episodes for the American series of SHAMELESS and THE UNITED STATES OF TARA, for instance. ROADKILL CONFIDENTIAL was written in 2012.

Trevor (Alison Bennett) is an artist who became infamous – world press cameras on lawns famous – from making an Artwork out of the photographs of a garish accident featuring a woman – the woman being the now deceased wife of the Art Professor, William (Jasper Garner Gore) whom Trevor has now married, and who has given her permission to do so, and his son, the now erratic  (read crazy) Randy (Nathaniel Scotcher). Trevor’s latest Artwork being built in secret in her studio in the forest nearby, is, we deduct gradually, either a roadkill sculpture or an instrument of bioterrorism – the roadkill having, possibly, a strain of tularaemia – for people have died after touching it. Melanie (Sinead Curry), a pesky neighbour sticky-beak does do so, when she can’t resist stroking the fur. (Echoes of Seymour and Audrey Jnr. in THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS?). Of course rumour sneaks out about the mysterious Artwork and soon a Government Agent (Michael Drysdale) is sent to case it out, to investigate (KILLER JOE?) planting cameras to spy on every activity. There is an ultimate showdown in the studio and something mysterious transpires between them both and so, Trevor and the Agent, together, welcome the milling press to the Opening of the new Artwork.

“Is the play about creative freedom colliding with moral accountability?” “Is it about the numbing effect on our world with the incessant exposure to brutality?”  Whatever, it seems to have the same icky (read creepy) discomfort that Neil LaBute’s THE SHAPE OF THINGS had/has when discussing Art and its usage. The sub-title to the play is ‘a noir-ish meditation on brutality’ but the tone of the play is more than that genre, it is not just noir-ish,  it also has a Sci-Fi feel, and with form in the writing, it has an absurdist twist glimmering – some have referred to her use of language as poetry on acid.

Ms Bennett, as Trevor is formidable and mordantly, wickedly funny; Mr Drysdale, as the Agent, agile and succinct, both these actors having easy command of their bodies (Movement Director, Amanda Laing) to inform the workings of the play with a tight visual style and wit. Ms Curry handles her text with a vaudevillian edge, Mr Gore with an intelligent command of the Art Speak of his post-modernist Art professor ladles it with the right thickness of satiric saucing, and lastly, the juvenile antics of the loose cannon Randy given by Mr Scotcher has the right erraticism to cause one to want to slap him. Well done, all – you had me ‘hooked’ – something is going on, you made me feel, so, I heeded.

Director, Michael Dean, has within the budget confines of this production with Set and Costume Designer, Catherine Steele, found the visual solutions to help us endow the space when the Lighting by Richard Neville and Mandylights, accompanied with a very inventive and hip Sound Design by Benjamin Garrard shift us into the worlds with ease.

KX Theatre has re-configured their space and have taken away the bar from up front to create a foyer and organised the audience seating on two sides of the stage space, in a kind of traverse, with raked seating (chairs) accommodating about 80 people – 40 on each side. A new space is always welcome in Sydney and one hopes it finds a consistent niche of quality work.

ROADKILL CONFIDENTIAL is a quirky enough start to encourage you to go, and this pub has a lot to offer before and after the show – a full night’s entertainment: Dinner, Drinks and a Show.