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leaves @ king street

falling leaves

Newtown’s King Street Theatre is currently presenting a world premiere production of local playwright Steve McGrath’s new work, LEAVES. A co-production by Theatre Excentrique and Emu Productions directed by Markus Weber, the play is full of dark humour and is brought to life by three fine performances.

The show opens and we see film of three friends on their long hike to the remote site which then leads to their live appearance on stage. Their emergence  is heralded with a clever soundscape including kookaburras guffawing. Weber’s marvelous set design includes a bush track with leaves, tree stumps and panels at the back acting as a projection screen.

We find out that Chas has arranged with his old friends Wilbur and Harvey to spend a camping weekend in a remote Eden like paradise to celebrate the milestone of turning fifty together. Their trip however takes a wrong turn and detour during a feast of beer, beef and barbiturates. Will they survive through until Monday morning?

The play asks major questions about relationships, death, growing old disgracefully, and why are we here? Turning fifty does make you pause and reflect on what might have been, and what the future possibly holds. The script is witty and sarcastic, at times bleakly humorous with sometimes features very corny jokes.

Birthday boy Chas, a realtor (very handsome Gerry Sont ) is smartly dressed in a blue and white striped shirt and white trousers. Leader of the expedition, he attempts to exert his authority. But then why is he carrying all the gear?!

Harvey (Martin Ashley Jones), a barrister, wears a loud Hawaiian shirt, three- quarter shorts and sunglasses.

Psychiatrist Wilbur (Steve McGrath) is in a khaki ensemble and wears a cap in camouflage design. Wilbur is totally a city person and all he does is annoyingly pick, pick, pick and complain, or delight in looking for the worst in every situation.

Harvey , in a relationship crisis yet again , is a typical hot blooded Aussie male, scared of commitment and is intent on chasing the sheilas. We learn a lot about his relationship with his current partner Connie and his exes.

This is one of the play’s major themes, men’s treatment of women. Chas, in particular, treated his fiance Grace appallingly.

Secrets are gradually revealed and the triangles of connection between the three are expanded on. For example, we learn that Chas possibly has a major heart problem and regards himself as cold and unable to love. Chas and Wilbur bicker about the non return of Chas’ pets…

There are some lyrical passages- for example, Chas poetically describing the landscape, Harvey’s monologue about his hair and self –identity, contrasted with some biting, sarcastic wit – Wilbur’s put downs especially, which the audience loved. I quite enjoyed the ‘bing!’ chime and snap to a projection of Harvey’s mind at times – much fun.

The drug and alcohol induced weird, dreamlike finale blurred reality and hallucination, – or did it?! Was George really close by with his helicopter?

Summing up, Steve McGrath’s work is a fascinating look at masculinity and the ageing process and how getting older makes us become more vulnerable with the exposure of weaknesses becoming a challenge. Can we approach the rest of our lives with zing , or do we dread the seep of old age in our quest for enlightenment?! Something to contemplate!

Running time 2 hours (approx) including an interval.

LEAVES by Steve McGrath, is playing the King Street theatre, corner King and Bray streets, Newtown until the 29th November.


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