A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
A gripping, gritty and insightful locally written play
A couple of nights ago, I attended the final night for the debut run of Waiting on You, a Majella Productions show, written, directed and produced by Melbourne local, Gabrielle Pearson. With a season lasting just three nights, I can only hope there are plans for a return run because I regret that I can't currently urge friends and readers to go and see it for themselves!
There is a soft opening for this play. First impressions are a three-part set, across a wide stage. To the audience's right are two single beds, behind a moveable wall which has a toilet affixed. Centre stage is a bar and to the left is what turns out to be an office.
Through this two-hour play, we follow the story of Georgi (Catherine Morvell), a woman in her twenties who has moved to the city (unspecified location) and taken a job in a bar to earn a living. Georgi is sharing an apartment with the outgoing, flirty Sarah (Casey Reddington) (hence the two beds).
On first arriving at work, Georgi is pleased with the effusive greeting by her colleagues - except for one, the general manager, Ben (Joshua White). Ben, we later learn, has previously been reprimanded for a dalliance with a former employee.
Georgi at the bar with (left) Mason (Seb Muirhead), Alessandro (Louis Reed) and Sven (Daniel Agar) / Image appears courtesy of Tim Smith Photography
The only woman in the team, Georgi is sized up by the co-owner of the bar, Mason (Seb Muirhead), bartender Alessandro (Louis Reed), and Ben. Less interested is gay Sven (Daniel Agar).
Georgi (Catherine Morvell ) is given a warm welcome by work colleagues Alessandro (Louis Reed) and Sven (Daniel Agar) / Image appears courtesy of Tim Smith Photography
Fairly quickly, it becomes apparent there is chemistry between Ben and Georgi. We also learn that Ben has a drug problem that appears to be escalating. He is a different person when he's using compared with when he's not, a confusing situation for Georgi. But as their relationship deepens, Ben inveigles Georgi into his drug-using world and she starts to lose control of the situation.
Georgi (Catherine Morvell) and Ben (Joshua White) hit it off. Housemate Sarah (Casey Reddington) is in the foreground / Image appears courtesy of Tim Smith Photography
Meanwhile, flatmate Sarah starts a relationship with Mason, but things don't quite go to plan there, either.
At the end of the first act, the audience is left feeling amused at the goings-on of the characters, but there is the sense that events could take a different twist in the second act and indeed, that is the case.
Think of a gripping movie or book, where you almost can't bear to watch, or find out, what happens next - and that is, in part, the second act in Waiting on You. I found myself getting tense and almost wanting to cover my eyes and peer through my fingers, like a child in a horror movie, during some parts of this performance. But it was so beautifully handled, by the actors and in the direction, that it was absolutely compelling.
The ending is also clever. Everything is wrapped up - not exactly in a 'happy ever after' way, but in a manner that leaves you with a smile on your face.
In the production I saw, the honours were shared by Catherine Morvell as Georgi and Joshua White as Ben. The role each played is complex, requiring a broad range of emotions and they were convincing throughout. In the cast of six, in this dynamic, fast-moving production, there is no place to hide and all cast members were strong in their roles.
The production is complemented by the outstanding soundscape created by on-stage DJ/musician (and musical composer) Emily Dynes. Dynes' work is the icing on the cake in terms of setting the mood and drama. She necessarily has to take a dynamic approach to her live music production, ever watchful for when the actors are ready to commence their next scene to progress to the next section of her music. Poor timing could wreck the continuity, but she never misses a beat. It's outstanding work.
On stage DJ/musician and musical composer, Emily Dynes / Image appears courtesy of Tim Smith Photography
In Waiting on You, Gabrielle Pearson doesn't just tiptoe over lines, she smashes through them. We're talking simulated sex and drug use scenes, as well as coarse language, violence, frequent drug references and the simulated consumption of alcohol on stage. It's not sugar-coated, it's bold, raw and gritty.
There is so much to commend about this play that I sincerely hope it has a return run. Quality theatre at its best.