TOYER - MELBOURNE
TOYER, North of Eight at The Court House, North Melbourne 26 April-13 May 2017. Photography by Aron Munoz
Toyer, written by Gardner McKay in 1998, is the second production of the recently-formed North of Eight company, and the era of its setting is important: there are no mobile phones. It is a psychological thriller. There is manipulation, vulnerability, power, lying, charisma and acting!
Known as the “Toyer” – one who toys; one who is full of trifling tricks – a psychopath has been terrorising a small town in America. He doesn’t kill, rather he beguiles his victims, they sleep and have sex with him and then he renders them brain dead. Pretty ugly notion.
Maude (Faran Martin) is a psychologist at the local hospital and has to deal with the women the Toyer has reduced to nothing. She is also frightened, however, and believes she is being targeted by a voyeur.
As luck doesn’t have it, Peter (Kashmir Sinnamon), a young man she has met in the supermarket car park, knocks on her door to offer assistance to fix her car. Prior to Peter’s arrival Maude has made one phone call, made a cup of tea, jumped at a few shadows, and is about to have a shower. All this is important: it gives us the layout of the apartment (excellent design by Tony Bradshaw) and that there is contact with the outside world.
Peter only wants to help, he lives in the next block. Maude talks to him through the closed, locked door. The audience will her not to drop her guard and let him in. Is this the Toyer – one who toys; one who is full of trifling tricks?
We witness charismatic manipulation and confusion; we see how power and morals can quickly shift. How the way a situation seems can become something else in the blink of an eye – juxtapositions – and how easy it is to give your power away...for what? Lying, lawlessness: judge jury and executioner.
Toyer is a thriller both shocking and intriguing. The audience members crane their necks from unraked seats, riveted by Peter’s every move.
Faran Martin has a rollercoaster of emotion to go through as Maude and she makes a good fist of it, albeit it’s a bit of masterclass in “acting”. When she pulls back a little and begins to enjoy the role rather than being exhausted by it – indicating to the audience at the curtain call how drained she is – the better it will be.
Sinnamon is ingenuous as Peter and suitably maniacal, you like him despite suspecting that you shouldn’t. Again, it’s likely he will become stronger and more playfully sinister as they settle into the run. Director Sarah Hallam uses the space and the design well and allows her actors to absorb the mindless horror that befalls them.
North of Eight is a young company and with a few more shows under their belt they will be well on their way.