Queensland Theatre's L'APPARTEMENT is dramaturgically divine
Directed and written by Joanna Murray-Smith, Queensland Theatre L'Appartement is a new comedy which explores a theatrical universe which is akin to our work. As someone studied Murray-Smith at university, it was such a joy to not only to see the debut of a new work but to have her have her directing hat on as well. Quite frankly, it was a dream come true. And she and her team of designers did such a fantastic job, transforming the Cremorne Theatre into a space of storytelling in which Dale Ferguson's set design invited us to voyage with the characters on their Parisian adventure.
The set design, complimented by Ben Hughes's lighting palette, is minimalistic but speaks volume. The stage is transformed into a lavish Parisian apartment with a glass window which looks out upon a balcony, a glistening white kitchen bench with no crumb on site and an uncomfortable, backless sofa. Everything is clean, aesthetically compatible and everything is made by a designer label, evening the desk chair. However, in a country that's rich in culture and historical buildings, the apartment stands out like a sore thumb, creating a discourse between the traditional and the modern, new vs old, an intellectual slice for the audience.
This dichotomy is extended throughout the performance through the characters, their relationships to each other and the way they use the space. The entre the story at the same time young, Australian couple Meg (Liz Buchanan) and Rooster (Andrew Buchanan) enter their holiday apartment, who have left their twins in their care of their grandmother so that they can have some time to re-connect and create new shared adventures. The French couple who owns the apartment, Serge (Pacharo Mzembe) and Lea (Melanie Zanetti) life of what Rooster calls 'very cool', playing Football for Madrid, curing Maleria, taking photography of Lions for National Geographic... you name it, they've probably done it. You can feel Meg and Rooster's discomfort and questioning whether or not they're truly living.
This notion of what a full life is, what matters and what doesn't is a continuous theme throughout the piece and a constant discussion between the Australian couple. Married in real life, the Buchanan's have lovely chemistry and both are very grounded in their characters. Andrew plays Rooster as the classic larrikin, who on the surface is charming, a laugh and very much living in the moment, but underneath is quite a complex character who is trying to figure out how to navigate his marriage. Meg's emotional kaleidoscope and her desperate need for an escape is played with such ease by Liz, who plays Meg's highs and lows, her laughs and her sorrows with such vulnerability and truth. Zanetti and Mzembe are also praised for their portrayal of two characters who, though full of wit and hilarious remarks, are very narrow-minded in their thinking and at the centre of the play's political and ethical controversy over cultural ownership in our materialistic society.
The text was dramaturgically divine, the characters were real, flaws and all, and what a timely socio-political commentary in the wake of Adani and it's cultural and environmental repercussions.
Rating: 4.5 Stars