REVIEW: 41 SECONDS (Theatre / Social Change)

Mary Galouzis is the founder of the not-for-profit organisation Talk Out Loud. She brings a unique self-devised play to The Bakehouse Theatre in an attempt to remove the stigma around mental illness and honour those who lost their lives to suicide.

41 seconds. Photo supplied.

The cast featured sixteen performers, some of whom were trained actors and others volunteers devoted to the cause.

The central character, Nick, played by Anthony Von Der Borch, was a troubled young musician who took his own life while concealing a dark secret.

Von Der Borch was an affecting protagonist and delivered his scenes in a subdued and despondent manner. He gave a sympathetic portrayal of Nick and held the production together. Others were not so convincing in their roles.

The play focussed largely on the characters coming to terms with the loss of Nick, however, in several instances their grief was not believable. Their interpretation was melodramatic, verging on a soap opera which distracted from the sensitive nature of the central theme.

The only other notable performance was Nick’s mother played by Denise Alexander. Her maternal struggle was heartfelt and moving, and her nuanced acting settled the on-stage chaos. Most affecting was the final scene featuring the shoes and images of deceased persons.

Blackouts would have assisted the scene changes, marred as they were by the projection of the number 41 on a screen at the back. This did not allow the mood of the previous scene to linger as actors clumsily moved sets around in half-light. Likewise, a sonic palette extending beyond the dialogue and altogether misplaced musical cues would have better concealed some of the necessary stage logistics.

Arguably there were too many subplots, and the actors were straining their emotions to the detriment of necessary subtlety, given that when one deals with grief, the natural instinct would be to hide these emotions. Some actors lacked the character-driven sensitivity needed to elicit the raw grief that this play angled for.

As said before, there were many volunteer performers in this production, and it is admirable that Galouzis and her organisation are presenting works that address controversial issues. However, the strengths in this productions were in the more intimate deliveries by Von Der Borch and Alexander.

Furthermore, the drama surrounding romantic interests added little to the intended cause. Regardless, I could see that this play affected many viewers and I commend Galouzis for honouring the loss of a loved one through this Fringe performance. Having personally lost friends and family, I can appreciate that grief is a multi-layered concept and everyone deals with it differently.

Rating: ☆☆☆

Reviewed performance: 14 March, 2018
Season: 9 – 17 March, 2018
Time: 6.00 pm
Venue: The Bakehouse Theatre

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