Writer's block is the bane of every writer. It can also be hilarious when you mix it with a bit of psychosis. Gold Coast local playwright, Kellie Silver has given us an insight as to what goes on in one particular writer's mind. If you're not convinced of the therapeutic benefits of writing, you will be once you've seen Writer's Block.
Writer, Jane, played to perfection by Kate McNair, walks around the room, flailing her arms about, talking to her non-existent characters. She has no idea how her story will unravel. All she knows for sure is that Jake, her handsome, muscular and not so intelligent leading man will be at her beck and call to satisfy her fantasies. Adele, her leading lady, on the other hand, will be at her mercy with very little chance of getting a happily ever after ending. Finally at her wits end, Adele puts her foot down and demands to know why Jane keeps writing her out of happy endings, or worse, killing her off. What she finds out causes a major turn of events, triggered when Paul, an admirer, bursts Jane's delusional bubble, forcing her to face her imaginary schizophrenic behaviour (said with tongue in cheek). What will be the fate of Jane's characters now? Which character gets the happy ending?
Director, David Fraser, who I believe stepped in as understudy, to play Jane's admirer and Captain Brooks, hit the jackpot with his selection of cast. Award winning actress, Kate McNair, oozes charisma and is a treat to watch. From her wacky hairdo's and writer's garb, complete with double layered toe socks, her performance injects a humourous spark at just the right moment when the play begins to flat-line into seriousness. Playwright, Kellie Silver, created just the right balance of hilarious interruptions to a storyline within a storyline centred around a German girl and British soldier sheltering in a shack during a World War II bombing raid. She is to be commended on her characterisations.
Rory Impellizzeri, who plays leading man, Jake, won the audience over with his impressive one-handed push-ups but his crème de la crème performance was his shirtless pectoral dance followed by his tearful begging not to be excluded from Jane and Adele's private conversation. Insecurities do run riot in this fun, imaginative play. Jay-Louise Clark, who plays Jane's sister, Kate, gave an impressive and flawless performance. Her intermittent appearances were a fun interruption that brought Jane back into reality.
Sophie Lawson has a beautiful stage presence. She played a rather reserved Adele, which I felt kept her performance on the same emotional level throughout the play. I felt there were possibilities for Rory and Sophie to take their roles to another level by using much more contrasting emotions and body language as two young people falling in love one minute to the completely detached characters that are a figment of Jane's imagination the next. This can be challenging as actors playing actors, but the result of looking intensely in love one minute and completely detached the next would have enhanced their performances and audience experience. I was not convinced they were falling in love. There was a lack of the intensity and impulsiveness that young people experience. They came across as actors acting throughout both story spectrums and even though they delivered their lines well, the contrasting emotions were lacking. Kate gave an example of this when Jane's personality changed dramatically at the prospect of a new man in her life. Her change from cranky, neurotic writer to love struck hopeful whenever Paul appeared was charming and her exuberance was energising. These are the sorts of things that stir an audience's emotions and make a connection that stays in our memories.
Taking into consideration that community theatre has limited budgets; the set, lighting and sound on this production were quite basic. The highlight was the clever use of a rotating portion of the stage, which was very effective and the secret door behind the bookshelf. Considering the size and layout of the hall where Writer's Block was staged, good quality sound would alleviate the need to strain to hear the actors, especially if you are sitting towards the back of the hall.
I really enjoyed Writer's Block and I'm sure you will too. It's a fun, imaginative storyline and a great choice of cast who all did a really great job of entertaining the audience judging from the many outbursts of laughter.
Tugun Theatre is located at the Tugun Community Centre, close to Coolangatta Airport, so prepare yourself for some unplanned sound effects, which may or may not enhance the experience depending on the timing. There is ample free parking available and the hall is wheelchair friendly.