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Never Ever at Rigby's Bar

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Play explores the whole truth and everything but the truth
Never Ever, Blak Yak Theatre, Rigby's Bar, play, performing arts, stage, truth, lies
Jenny Palmer, left, and Ruhama Geiger explore the truth over a game of pool and glass of wine in Never Ever. Picture: Michael McAllan

How honest are we with the people around us? It's a question explored in the play Never Ever, written and directed by Melissa Merchant, being staged as part of Blak Yak Theatre's short play season downstairs at Rigby's Bar.

Six friends get together and decide to play a game of "never ever", a game meant to be about truth. As the game progresses, stories are told and the truth is both revealed and concealed with each woman having a secret to hide.

"In a world of constructed realities, where every little thought can be shared on Facebook or tweeted for the world to see, how much do you really know about your best friend, work colleague or old buddy from uni?" Melissa said. "And how much do they really know about you? Never Ever is a play about the truths and the lies we tell, as well as the parts we keep hidden.

"I wrote the play many years ago, when I was in my 20s, and it was a chance to have some fun and ask some interesting questions. This year, I decided to come back to it with a more mature approach and see if I could update it and present it to a modern audience."

Never Ever, Blak Yak Theatre, Rigby's Bar, play, performing arts, stage, truth, lies
Never Ever features Ruhama Geiger, left, and Ebony Davey as two of six friends playing a game that exposes both truths and lies. Picture: Michael McAllan

Active in theatre since 1995, Melissa has worked with Heritage, Kwinana, Harbour, Melville, Blak Yak, Roleystone, KADS, Garrick and Marloo Theatres, Murdoch University and the Graduate Dramatic Society. She received a best actress award for her role in Insignificance in 2006 at the annual Finley Awards and appeared in Can't Stand up for Falling Down, named best production at the 2002 Dramafest and South West Drama Festival. In 2006, Merchant also directed a stage adaptation of TV show Coupling, winner of best ensemble cast at the South West Drama Festival.

With Never Ever, her main challenge is negotiating the actors around all the eating and drinking required on stage. "The timing will be crucial to ensure that no one ends up with an empty glass or a mouthful of food when they need to speak," she said.

"There is also an interesting balance between comedy and drama that needs to be managed very carefully. I don't want to step on the funny moments – and hopefully there will be plenty of funny moments – but I also don't want to minimise the impact of the dramatic moments."

Never Ever, Blak Yak Theatre, Rigby's Bar, play, performing arts, stage, truth, lies
never3: Tina (Anastatia Ward, left) and Kasey (Kate Davenport) both have secrets to hide in Never Ever. Picture: Michael McAllan

Anastatia Ward plays the role of Tina, someone who comes across as brusque and brittle. "She speaks her mind without much thought for how it might affect others," she said. "And she doesn't like to discuss her private life. In this play, Tina could hardly be described as the life of the party or someone who's particularly warm – or even polite.

"She doesn't endear herself to her peers or the audience one bit and as the scene goes on, we get to learn why. Tina's got a lot on her plate, and just like all the characters, she deals with her troubles in her own way."

Initially, Anastatia felt uncomfortable playing the most ungracious person at the party. "The thought of being so obviously unhappy to be in a group and so blatantly not even trying to have a good time is so 'not me' that it meant I had to step out of my comfort zone," she said. "But I'm glad though – getting to push yourself is what improving your range is all about. Besides, Tina gets some killer lines so it's not all bad."

Never Ever, Blak Yak Theatre, Rigby's Bar, play, performing arts, stage, truth, lies
Cally Zanik, left, and Ruhama Geiger are appearing in Never Ever this September. Picture: Michael McAllan

Joining Never Ever for Blak Yak Theatre's season of short plays is Move It! by Johnny Grim. Directed by Graeme Johnson, the play is a tongue-in-cheek show about three New Zealanders entering their home-grown play into various WA drama festivals – and trying to improve it after harsh criticism from adjudicators.

Never Ever and Move It! play at 8pm, September 12 and 13 – doors opens 7pm with an a la carte menu available. Tickets for the show are $15 – book through Rigby's Bar is located at the rear of 221 St Georges Terrace, Perth.
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Why? Truth can mean different things to different people – and here's how it plays out among six friends.
When: 8pm September 12 and 13
Where: Rigby’s Bar, rear of 221 St Georges Terrace, Perth CBD
Cost: All tickets $15
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