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Permission to Spin

Photo by Robert Catto

Apocalypse Theatre Company, in association with Red Line Productions, presents, PERMISSION TO SPIN, by Mary Rachel Brown, at the Old Fitz Theatre, Cathedral St. Woolloomooloo. 3rd July – 28th July.

PERMISSION TO SPIN, is a new Australian play by, Mary Rachel Brown.

Well, the last Mary Rachel Brown play we saw in Sydney was SILENT NIGHT for the Darlinghurst Theatre Company late last year – it was a disaster. Approaching another evening with Ms Brown was a fraught, tentative commitment. However, I can say, it was worth taking a punt, for the experience was a better one, and PERMISSION TO SPIN, a taut 61 minute one act, was as different as day can be to night, to the Darlinghurst SILENT NIGHT.

It is interesting to see that Ms Brown, following, perhaps, the role-model of other writers, such as Harold Pinter and Edward Albee, who were fraught with the Director’s misapprehension of their writing, has taken the Director’s reigns into her own hands – declaring, perhaps, “This is how my play works. Pay attention.” Although, to help, Dino Dimitriadis is registered as Director, too (he is also one of the Producers), and Matthew Cheetham is recorded as a Co-Director.

Three Directors to prepare this ‘dish’!!!

Mind you this trio of Directors began well with the choice of a cast, Yure Covich, Anna Houston and Arky Michael – three actors who have, individually, the ‘chops’ to tackle any text, and, collectively, the ‘chemistry’ to pull it off. They do.

Cristobel, aka Miss Polkadot (Anna Houston), is about to receive, at a big public event, the Children’s Album of the Year, and has a deal for global franchisement which would result in all her team becoming a wealthy phenomenon. At a meeting prior, Jim, her agent (Arky Michael), and Martin, her producer (Yure Covich), both, high as kites on a cocktail of cocaine, whiskey and adrenaline – the ‘norm’ it seems for this industry, as Ms Polkadot, also imbibes – are given an obstacle when Cristobel threatens to reveal, with her acceptance speech, retirement, as a protest to her music being used to facilitate torture by aggressive governments – one of her songs is on a 24 hour loop at a loud volume causing collapse and disintegration of the minds of prisoners.

Escalating mayhem ensues as debates on ‘ethics’ between art and power (money), become the mask for what many of us might project as a struggle amongst the greedy in the chaos of capitalism with the promise that more is better, and better, and BETTER – until a demise of one of them halts the verbal and physical gymnastics. We are crashed into a Black Out, a warm spotlight follows, and the ‘demised’ gives an epilogue of pathos, that is about real things – too late, too late, poor ‘thing’.

The three actors hoisted into the stratosphere of a very ‘upper’ drugged state by the writer, perform to elicit a clarity for their character’s arguments whilst illustrating the given circumstance of their writer’s world with great alacrity – it is a fine high wire act of finding the right balance to keep it all a perceptibly rational experience for the audience. These three actors find a joint ‘agreement’ between themselves to keep this play afloat, for this is a Mad, Mad, Mad, World, indeed. There is wit in the writing if not many outright laughs as this world is so bizarre that it kind of inhibits permission to spin with them – perhaps an offer of a cocaine whiff for each of us could have helped, as Martin often reiterates to the others, “You must participate if you want to stay in the room.” (I paraphrase.)

A Set Design from Cris Baldwin, a grey dampening environment with black mirroring, and neat, real costumes, by Isabella Cannavo, that disintegrate as the hour passes, are suspended in a spotty Lighting Design by Veronique Benett.

This is a brisk evening in the theatre and an intense one – one is left a trifle exhausted. The content concerns of the play feel a little dated (though no less relevant) and one ponders just how long ago was this play ‘born’? Ms Brown has written her play, whenever it was,  and shows how it should be done.

SILENT NIGHT, almost forgiven.

What’s next?