The Australian playwright of She Rode Horses Like The Stock Exchange, Amelia Roper, notes that "simple is incredibly difficult". Yet, simplicity is exactly why this whip-smart play succeeds. In the face of the Global Financial Crisis in the US, Roper has created a delightfully witty and provocative script that allows the production team and actors to revel and enjoy their time to play onstage.
The premise of the play is simple. A nice couple, Henry the male nurse and Amy the investment banker are enjoying Sunday Funday on a blanket in a park. Another nice couple turn up in the park and say hello and are invited to sit down for a conversation. What ensues is delightfully funny banter, poignant and sarcastic commentary on the demise of the American Dream and just enough emotional depth to tug at our feelings subtly throughout. To be more specific will spoil the magic of this wonderful four-way dialogue, but it's safe to say that Roper's snappy script combined with killer performances from each of the four actors continues to shock, surprise and delight for the length of the show's 75min running time.
bAKEHOUSE Theatre and Rocket Productions have brought a killer team together to present this piece. Nell Ranney's direction showcases her skill, deftly teasing out clues in the dialogue that bring the show to its climax. The rolling grass hill design by Isabel Hudson is just perfect for this piece and easily captures the essence of a quiet American park. Lighting and sound by Christopher Page and Ben Pierpoint respectively complete the picture of lazy Sunday serenity in the outdoors. Each member of the team has embraced the simplicity that this piece needs to succeed and delivered in spades.
Matilda Ridgway is brilliant as the tough, ambitious and morally askew investment banker, Amy. She commands the stage with an alpha-like presence that definitely gives off Wall St vibes. As Amy's as ever-supportive and accepting partner Henry, Tom Ansen Mesker is equal parts hapless and adorable. Dorje Swallow's down-on-his-luck, but still tough-talking, Max is just the right blend of slimy and patronising to still be able to cut a sympathetic figure and Nikki Britton is just sublime as his long-suffering wife Sarah. Britton's emotional life is full, honest and raw throughout the piece and it is definitely with her that our empathy gravitates towards. As an ensemble, this foursome delivers one of the strongest and tightest performances of the year.
There are only four more shows before this impeccably presented production departs the Kings Cross Theatre stage. I'd recommend that you make sure you're at one of them.