LIFE TIME GUARANTEE - MELBOURNE
LIFE TIME GUARANTEE Theatre Works 9-26 February 2017. Photography by Pier Carthew: above - Charles Purcell and Julian Dibley-Hall; below - Isabella Zena and Charles Purcell
Life Time Guarantee, written by Ross Mueller, takes you on an uneasy ride of relationship needs and personal sabotage; it’s dense and you have to stay with it or you lose the thread. He has teamed up with John Sheedy who is Theatre Works 2017 creative director, fresh from his triumphant seasons of The Rabbits (Opera Australia).
Sheedy moves the actors seamlessly around the stage, although the dialogue at times is very fast paced – no breathing space. Perhaps that was Sheedy’s intention to give the impression that no one listens, but with that I lost some of the dialogue and therefore the intent.
Mueller gives us a tangled web that keeps weaving – Charles (Julian Dibley-Hall) is in an unhappy relationship with Daniel (Charles Purcell). Daniel is fresh from a marriage break-up with Chloe (Candace Miles), who hasn’t taken kindly to the situation.
Jodie (Izabella Zena) has come to work for Charles who is a high-end architect working on a lavish new Spring Street high-rise. Jodie is a no nonsense assistant but she has an Achilles heel: she hates her name – for which she apologises. She should have been called E Type Jaguar, she says.
Charles and his new PA drink far too many vodka shots and reveal their inner turmoil – Jodie confesses her love of bikes – real love of bikes… and Charles just wants to hold hands with Daniel who turns out to be unwell and needs to be fixed. Which is where Francis (Mark Constable) comes to the fore. He is Jodie’s father and straight from prison and we don’t want to know what he was in for. And his attitude towards washing machines is...unique. He strikes up with the Charles’s ex-wife, but has difficulty being intimate in a BMW – he blames the Germans for his lack of prowess.
There are links between them all, and there is no lifetime guarantee on love or washing machines. Constable is the strongest of the ensemble and Yena has her moment with her soliloquy.
A dusky blue apartment split in two by a ramp – one is the high end of town and one with a view of a carpark. The rake is bordered by flashing strip lighting as is the rest of the acting area. It should be distracting but it’s not. Lighting designer Martin Kinnane has captured the unease of the work with added sparkle. The sound design (Kelly Ryall) also adds to the unsettling unraveling of the play. All in all, Ellen Stanistreet’s set is terrific, it looks and feels opulent and the operational shower is a fine touch.
As a piece of theatre it was interesting but I felt it didn’t quite hit the mark. The person sitting next to me thought it was brilliant.