I'm a freelance actor, travel writer, photographer, foodie and attention seeker living in the lower North Shore. Check out my blog at www.emmajaneexplores.com for more.
Who knew a Paula Abdul obsession could be so dangerous?
A Paula Abdul die-hard fan. A dangerously infatuated teenager. A depressed wife having nightmares featuring Jon Benet Ramsay. What do these things have in common? They're all appearing onstage in Christopher Bryant's 'Home Invasion' at the Old 505 in Newtown.
June (Kate Cheel) is a tragic case of super-fandom gone wrong. She auditions for American Idol, convinced she is going to be a star, and faces ridicule from the world when her dreams are shattered by her idol, Paula Abdul (Wendy Mocke). Teenage school girl, Sam (Chloe Bayliss), starts an illicit relationship with her mechanic (Yure Covich) and plots to rid the world of the competition – his wife Carol (Morgan Maguire). Carol, on the other hand, is struggling mentally and confides in her shrink (Cecilia Morrow) that she is having bizarre dreams where murdered child beauty queen Jon Benet Ramsay visits her. In short, this show is pretty messed up, but gloriously so.
This is the second show in as many months that I've seen with Alexander Berlage at the helm and it well and truly demonstrates that he is very much one of Sydney's most exciting up and coming directors. His brand of campy, quirky, colourful and clever theatre is some of the most engaging work going around. His lighting design, too, is brilliant giving fun neon vibes to what is a challenging play to get right. He is wonderfully supported by set designer Jeremy Allen, whose clean, intelligent set utilises the small Old 505 playing space perfectly. Rounding out this stellar design team is Ellen Stanistreet, whose costume choices for each character are the perfect blend of bizarre caricature and reality. It's worth a mention too, that the soundtrack both pre-show and during (littered with Paula Abdul) really contributes to this production's ability to sit on the fence between fun and tragedy.
Kate Cheel as the wannabe starlet June is wonderful. She's every bit as deluded and hapless as the character requires and her energy throughout the show is exceptional. Chloe Bayliss demonstrates some serious acting chops as Sam; deftly switching between saccharine sweetness and deranged violence. Bayliss also has the task of bringing dream Jon-Benet Ramsay to life and her embodiment of the 6-year-old beauty queen is totally eerie. Morgan Maguire's Carol is perfectly played, constantly teetering on the edge separating her from a complete meltdown and is very well complimented by the very funny turn by Cecilia Morrow as her psychiatrist. Yure Covich and Wendy Mocke are fantastic in each of the myriad of roles they take on throughout the play. My only criticism of the performances is the few accent challenges experienced by Morgan Maguire and Wendy Mocke that at times nabbed my attention, but there is nothing in that that cannot be worked on and improved.
It is probably worth mentioning that if you are disturbed or triggered by suicidal themes, then Home Invasion is probably not the show for you. Suicide is a constant theme throughout the show – there is no avoiding it.
The Old 505 has a real hit on their hands with Home Invasion. It's a smart, electrifying production that punches well above its weight in the realms of indie theatre.