THE NURSERY WEB - MELBOURNE
THE NURSERY WEB, Butterfly Club Melbourne, 1-5 February 2017. Images supplied.
The Nursery Web, by New York writer Kotryna Gesait is a play about relationships; the phases of love, the ups, the downs, and the in-betweens, told through the eyes of three couples.
We are all pretty well versed in the insanity phase, the unsettled middle and then the breakup. Gesait is also the director and has chosen to give us vignettes depicting the phases but not in chronological order. We start with the middle, the end and then the beginning, each piece being commented on and introduced by an Announcer (Melina Wylie).
The Announcer is vamp-like and drinks her way through the middle, the end and when finally at the beginning she has pretty much drowned her sorrows. Is it because she has seen it all before? The frustration, the lack of communication between couples, the lack of listening to the other person, the need to bring other people in to make your commitment stronger? Did it add to the piece? I am not sure. I found it a distraction, but maybe that’s what the writer had in mind. Wylie works well, but I tended to lose some of her words the drunker she got.
In the middle Aaron Campbell is lover 1 and lover 2 is Gavin Lind. They made an okay fist of the dialogue, which doesn’t trip off the tongue easily in what I felt were slightly stilted performances. Campbell fares slightly better than Lind. They warmed up towards the end of their vignette.
The end, is an easier task, as ends tend to have more emotion to play with, including anger and self-reflection. Ange Arabatzis plays He and He runs the gamut of emotion, not really understanding why She (Olivia Ramsay) wants to break up. She knows the relationship has run its course; yes he may “love” her but does he “get” her? This vignette has terrific feminist overtones. Arabatzis stood out on the night.
And then we are entertained with the beginning. There is something wonderfully naive about a beginning, Ramsay doubles up and plays Infatuant 1 with heartfelt gaucheness and a beguiling smile – we feel her excited nerves. Infatuant 2, Michelle Nussey, has the upper hand as they are in her bed. We get the butterflies in the tummy and the unsettling ‘I love you’ after one night together.
The writing is dense and interesting, but directing your own work has its downside (in the absence of a fresh pair of critical eyes on a new script) and especially when working with actors who are new to the game.
The Butterfly Club is a place for new and seasoned performers and even though I might not be calling this the best show I’ve seen, I am acutely aware of the time and effort that went into it. I love that writers, directors, producers and actors have a venue to show their wares and they deserve an audience.