Fresh Antics’ LOCKED OUT

(left to right) Mikaela Atallah, Jessica Pantano, Nicola Darcy and Michelle Sverdloff
Inset pic- (left to right) Mikaela Atallah, Jessica Pantano, Nicola Darcy and Michelle Sverdloff. Featured pic- Jessica Pantano and Nicola Darcy in LOCKED OUT

A visit to the Allen House Rehabilitation Clinic is an amusing and entertaining experience. The clinic staff welcomes us and informs us that the Prime Minister will be arriving shortly and we are left to wander around the clinic observing the lame and predictable craft activities and diversional therapies provided for the patients. Fortunately a patient shows the way downstairs and assures us we will have more fun there, away from the nurses. Downstairs, the slightly delusional Frankie (Nicola Darcy) welcomes us to her political campaign launch with the perfectly reasonable platform of happiness and smiles.

The downstairs basement is an intriguing space. There are boxes of patient records stacked around the room with amusing descriptions written on them, and quirky signs and posters with very 1999 sensibilities. There is a print of Van Gogh’s Café in Arles in a damaged and taped up frame, raising the question of what situation brought about the damage.

Frankie hears someone approaching so she hides in a large cardboard box. The audience is introduced to Terri (Jessica Pantano), a staff member at the Allen House Rehabilitation Clinic, and the other actor in this two hander. Terri suspects Frankie is hiding in the basement and tries several ploys to entice her out including telling Frankie that she has taped her favourite episode of 90210.

This set up leads us into a fascinating exchange between the two characters. The interaction between patient and counsellor is reversed when Frankie starts counselling Terri. A good conversation can as useful as a therapy session in dealing with loneliness, frailties and vulnerabilities. The influence of John Howard on the storyline adds another layer to this production.

Both actors display a wide variety of skills in portraying differing aspects of their characters. Nicola Darcy’s character ranges from genuinely compassionate to psychotic and displays aspects of multiple personality disorder which provides great opportunities to showcase a wide range of acting skills. Jessica Pantano also displays vulnerability, rage and humour.

Drew Fairley’s direction unleashes lots of energy and disarming playfulness. The quirky set adds a pleasing level of charm to the performance.

Recommended. Running Time 45 minutes. Tickets only $15.

LOCKED OUT is a Fresh Antics production and is part of the Anywhere Festival, Parramatta and runs at the former Prince Peking Duck Restaurant, 13 Darcy St. Parramatta, across the road from Parramatta station, until Sunday 10th May.