Theatre by Frank McKone
Not Axel Harrison by Sam Floyd. Freshly Ground Theatre at The Street Two, November 26 – December 5 2009 (excluding Sundays and Mondays) at 8pm.
Freshly Ground Theatre has carved a small but attractive niche in Canberra’s theatrical architecture. The company is the vehicle for the writer Sam Floyd, whose work continues to show flair in this, their third, production.
Not Axel Harrison is a parody of the gangster movie genre in which the hit man Axel Harrison (Tom Watson) is killed by his intended victim,Chris, a non-violent florist (Chris Brain) who disguises himself as Harrison not only to avoid detection as a murderer but to escape the attention of the gangster loan-shark Poncioni (David MacNamara)to whom he owes a large sum, which is why Poncioni had sent Harrison.
At this point the plot, involving the non-appearing Bruce (apparently already killed by Harrison), the dim-witted bodyguard Val (Adam Salter), Poncioni’s sexy aggressive daughter Donna (Becky Bergman), Micky the Mule (Jack Dyball), and the corrupt cop in Poncioni’s pocket, Spiegel (Daniel McCusker), follows a constantly twisted line of logic which should not be revealed here: better to see the play and be surprised. Suffice to say, farce is the order of the day.
The performances varied in strength, with the commendations going to McNamara and Salter. But the generation X, Y or Z audience was not looking for highly polished acting from a cast of their peers. It was the dialogue and plot which carried the laughs, making for a successful light entertainment.
Floyd’s work has antecedents in Joe Orton’s Loot and Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound. Both those writers had the advantage of being able to participate in the British repertory and university traditions in their day. Freshly Ground’s niche is in this mould, but Canberra cannot boast the equivalent of the Cambridge University Footlights, the progenitor of much zany British comedy since the 1960s.
Maybe this is the time for Floyd and those around him to take up where Elbow Theatre left off and build our own Capital new wave of original young writers.