Sunday, October 29, 2023



Arran McKenna (Leon) - Steph Roberts (Sonja) - Jess Waterhouse (Jane)- Robbie Haltiner  (Pete)

Written by Andrew Bovell – Directed by Cate Clelland

Performed by Arran McKenna, Steph Roberts, Robbie Haltiner, Jess Waterhouse.

Presented by Free-Rain Theatre, ACT Hub 25th October to 4th November, 2023.

Performance on 27th November, 2023, reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.

Arran (Leon) - Steph Roberts (Sonja)

Andrew Bovell’s intriguing AWGIE Award-winning play is given a terrific production at the ACT Hub.

The decision of director, Dr Cate Clelland, to stage this play on a minimalist setting of multi-coloured cubes, focussed full attention on Bovell’s remarkable script, leaving the actors nowhere to hide. Not that this cast needed anywhere to hide, for each of the four actors delivered accomplished, engaging performances.

Bovell’s play examines the effects of infidelity and betrayal within marriage. It follows two couples, Leon and Sonja, played by Arran McKenna and Steph Roberts, and Pete and Jane, played by Robbie Haltiner and Jess Waterhouse who inadvertently exchange partners.

Dissatisfied with their marriages, each decides to explore infidelity, and the play opens with each of the four tentatively engaging with their new partners.  For this scene Bovell has the two sets of partners speaking the same lines together and simultaneously, but with each of the actors re-acting differently to what it being said.

It’s a fascinating ploy, and watching the skill with which actors exploit the possibilities offered by the script to bring unique individual nuance and responses to the lines, both with words and body language, is a mesmerising and enthralling experience, particularly in the intimacy of the ACT hub.

Jess Waterhouse (Valerie) - Robbie Haltiner (Neil) - Steph Roberts (Sarah)

As the play opens out, the audience learns of individual connections between the couples, with the actors interpreting a variety of different characters in the second act,  whose lives have been unwittingly impacted by the actions of the original quartet. Among then a woman stranded on a dark road who accepts a lift from Leon, who becomes a murder suspect when the woman disappears.

As these strands are explored it says much for the skill of the actors, and the clarity of Clelland’s direction, that there is no confusion in following the threads, nor is there any frustration from Bovell’s tantalising decision to leave the various threads unexplained at the end of the play, leaving the audience to reach its own conclusions.

While the clever use of various versions of “The Windmills of Your Mind” threaded through the play, worked well in hinting at the psychological implications of the play, it was a pity that a better solution wasn’t devised to avoid destroying the hard-won mood and breaking audience concentration watching the actors reset the cubes in half-light between each scene.

That reservation apart, this is an excellent production of an important play which will fascinate anyone interested in aspects of the human condition. Try not to miss it.

                                                   Images by Janelle McMenamin

      This review also published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW.