Lloyd Marken is a freelance writer with a passion for the arts who has been published with Scenestr, Heavy, Buzz, X-Press, FilmInk and Weekend Notes. Visit my blog at https://backtothedrawingboardproductions.com/
Get Plucked on a First Date at the Anywhere Festival
Plucked playing at Anywhere Festival May 21st-23rd.
Stroll through some markets, take a corner down a laneway, stop by someone's house, or enter the back room at a bar and you may just find yourself being wildly entertained by shows that are performed anywhere.
The Anywhere Festival is running again in Brisbane this year from the 6th to the 23rd of May 2021.
One of the shows is Plucked, about a couple out on their first date hiking through the hidden pathways of a rainforest and their own thoughts and feelings. An apt metaphor for how we must find our way in relationships and how we are often surrounded by a past that can make us lose our way.
That might make the play sound heavy, but it is a very funny comedy in the grand tradition of first date narratives gone awry.
Beth (Vivien Whittle) and Sam (Julie Berry) are meeting up for the first time after feeling a connection online. Sam has suggested they go hiking and while the ground may be thick with leeches (possibly a metaphor again), the air is thick with sexual tension. Whatever they felt online, they're feeling it even more in person when a Lone Hiker (Bronwyn Nayler) comes across them and throws everything off course.
The Lone Hiker is a bundle of energy engaged in possibly illegal activity, helpful to a fault, unable to pick up on social cues and the most capable person to traverse the wilderness. She acts as a mirror to the potential lovers and the ultimate comic foil.
Bronwyn Nayler as The Lone Hiker. Courtesy of Plucked Facebook page. Photo Credit to Naz Mulla.
The production hinges on how you take the performance of Nayler who is absolutely larger than life. Loud and brash, even when nursing hurt, she gets the biggest laughs but also reveals the least. This draws you in and makes you think long after the play has ended.
Beth and Sam helpfully tell us our backstories through breaking the fourth wall, with the other two actors on stage pausing. There is a running gag about the characters recognising that their bodies have been moved after the narration ends.
Whittle and Berry (also the show's writer) give natural and heartfelt performances that make you like these two characters and want to see it work out for them.
In keeping with the simplicity of the Anywhere Festival, the backroom of Elements Collective is covered with leaves and branches while Christmas Tree lights hang in the ceiling. These items prompt our imagination of a rainforest path during the day and at night.
The low light gives us the warm intimate atmosphere of a first date, while spotlights shine the brightest on our leads as they get to know each other. The lighting and sound of David Willis complete the effect.
The talent of Plucked left to right. Performers Bronwyn Nayler, Vivien Whittle, Julie Berry (also writer), and director Lisa Hickey. Courtesy of Plucked Facebook page. Photo Credit to Naz Mulla.
Actress Lisa Hickey makes her debut here as director and keeps the focus on character and performance to winning effect. This is about two people getting to know each other – the focus should be on them.
Plucked really is like a first date where you do make a connection and is a delight from beginning to end. It also doesn't wear out its welcome and it leaves wondering if there is more to come.
Plucked had its preview night May 16th and concludes with performances this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, May 21-23.
'Plucked' playing Elements Collective May 21st - 23rd.