BWW REVIEW: Science, Sport And Seeking More To Life Come Together In AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Friday 28th February 2020, 7:30pm, KXT
Riley Spadaro brings the world premiere of Angus Cameron's AUSTRALIAN OPEN to the Sydney stage as part of KXTeethCutting 's 2020 season. Emerging theatre company bub presents this contemporary comic work that explores family dynamics, sexuality and seeking something more with a fresh energy.
While the title and the aesthetic of AUSTRALIAN OPEN indicates that this work is about tennis, thankfully for the non-sport minded it only plays a minor part of the story which centers on Felix (Tom Anson Mesker), his family and his partner Lucas (Patrick Jhanur). Felix is a somewhat self-centered millennial who has just turned 31 and intended to pop the question to his partner Lucas but parents Belinda (Di Adams) and Peter (Gerard Carroll) have other ideas as they insist on a family dinner and seem more focused on quizzing Lucas on his recent loss to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final but in true parental form, they also broach the subject of haven't the boys decided to settle down and when they do, would they reconsider the form of their relationship. What Belinda and Peter can't come to grips with is the fact that Felix and Lucas have agreed to an open relationship and believe that their stance on this would remain even after marriage. This contemplation of what marriage means sets in motion an unusual course of events that sees Belinda wanting more from her life, Peter deciding to experiment when he realizes his wife isnt coming back in any great hurry. Add to this mix, Felix's sour and socially stunted sister Annabelle (Miranda Daughtry), a physicist in Switzerland, decides to come home for Christmas and naturally causes even more chaos in the already fractured family. Outside of the central characters, Tom Russell's "Hot Ball Boy" serves as additional characters and stagehand.
Set and Costume designer Grace Deacon provides a pale green tiered set that links the story to Lucas' tennis career. The addition of tables and chairs allows the story to transition between restaurant and home and other locations are implied by the actors use of the bare stage. A sliding window along one wall serves multiple amusing purposes, from a television screen through which the family see Annabelle deliver another of her Physics Tedx talks, to a bar and a shopfront. The costuming helps to quickly establish the evolving characters with some absurdly amusing elements.
Spadaro has selected a uniformly strong cast to bring this work to life with each having a strong sense of comic timing and the ability to understand when to 'lay it on thick' and when to hold back for more naturalistic expression. At times the challenge of presenting a piece presented on a traverse stage results in large blocks of scenes being presented with other performers blocking view of a character with little compensating movement to allow at least moments of witnessing a performers physical response to a conversation. The physicality for scene changes however is wonderfully choreographed with a particularly precise table throwing tantrum where glasses and saved on the slide.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN is an interesting discussion about sexuality, exploration, societal expectations, sibling rivalry and rediscovering yourself. Wonderfully funny and heartwarming even if a little too disparaging about Perth.
Photos: Clare Hawley