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September 25, 2006 | by  | in Theatre |
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Urge + Excess = Drama

Urge + Excess = Drama is the third collection of student directed plays to be shown as part of the course work for the students of THEA 304, one of the Vic Theatre Department’s most well-regarded courses, which focuses on direction. The three plays performed are based around a loose theme outlined in the name of the collection. The press release claims that in each play “the characters are driven to extremes by their wants and urges. They loose control of the situations around them and it is then that great theatre becomes inescapable.”

The first play performed was Beef Junkies (by Jonathan Dorf, directed by Ginny Spackman) which captured a moment in the lives of three characters: the Cowgirl (Aimeé-Lyn Marshal), the Cowboy (Sam Ennor) and the Shepherd (Nicholas Dellabarca). The Cowboy and Cowgirl are addicts, driven to outrageous lengths to get a hit of meat. The play opens with the Cowboy delivering a hit of what they both believe to be beef to the Cowgirl – it turns out to be chicken. Meat as a drug is a rather odd metaphor but somehow it works, it manages to the audience a snapshot both of the dizzying highs and unfathomable lows of addiction and delivers a pertinent message about the unsustainable use of limited resources. The actors convey these messages (and a couple more beside) with clarity and strength that draws the audience in. It is a thoroughly enjoyable black comedy. The second performance was George the Mad Ad-Man (by Peter Bland, directed by Janosh Schimmelschmidt). It took a look inside the life of George (David Oxenbridge), a self obsessed and misogynistic advertising executive. For him women only represent two, mutually opposed things: beautiful sex symbols (whores) and withered matronly care-givers (mothers and wives). These come in to conflict with each other when he starts bringing work, in the form of a shapely and scantily clad model (Kirsty Bruce), home with him. George the Mad Ad-Man does well in keeping the audience guessing as to what is real and what isn’t. This is heightened as his wife, the homely (Brigid Costello) and the model eventually adopt traits of the other, leaving the audience with the sneaking suspicion that they were the same person in the first place and that George’s madness caused him to separate them. Oxenbridge gave an engaging portrayal of manic insanity while the two ladies beautifully orchestrated the plot.

The final performance was A Tale of Mystery (by Thomas Holcroft, directed by Sophia Cornish) which was a wonderfully fun and melodramatic spoof on the classic 20s detective genre. Each cast member suited their role to the tee (unfortunately there were too many to name) and the performance was accompanied by equally fitting corny piano music provided by Andrew Simpson. The convoluted plot and the over-the-top hammy acting meant that the play was so bad it was good.

While the theatre wasn’t as great as the press release claims, it was a damn good effort. All three shows were compelling, fun, forceful and (most importantly) extremely relevant. This is something that even the most professional productions often fail to achieve. These collections are an opportunity to see short, risky plays that are rarely performed in professional or semiprofessional theatres, the final collection of plays is being performed at Studio 77 from the 11th to the 14th of October.

By Jonathan Dorf, Peter Bland and Thomas Holcroft
Directed by Ginny Spackman, Janosh Schimmelschmidt and Sophia Cornish
Studio 77: 20 – 23 September

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About the Author ()

HAILING FROM the upper-middle- class hell of Havelock North, Jules is in the final semester of a bachelor’s degree in Trenchermanship (majoring in Gourmandry), is a self-professed Anarcho-Dandy and resides in the Aro Valley. He likes to spend his days pursuing whimsical follies of every sort and his evenings gallivanting through the bars and restaurants of Wellington in search of the perfect wine list. He has unfailingly dedicated his life to the excessive consumption of food and drink (despite having no discernable way of paying for it), and expects to die of simultaneous heart and kidney failure at thirty-nine. His only hope is that very soon people will start to pay him for his opinions (of which he is endowed with aplenty). Jules has a penchant for vintage Oloroso.

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