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May 19, 2008 | by  | in Theatre |
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Written by Gavin McGibbon
Directed by Simon Vincent
At Bats
May 13 – 24

As an avid horror fan, I often find that the thriller genre is all-too-often invisible in downtown theatres, so it really is high time we were given something psychologically riveting and creepy to sink our teeth into. Handyman sure fits the bill in this respect, blending laugh-out-loud humour with frights and violence, in such a way as to create an awkward and sinister atmosphere, which is no simple feat in a medium where people are more likely to want and expect fluffy entertainment rather than frights.

Richard (Jade Daniels) and Claire (Kate Prior) are a married couple struggling to keep their relationship together after a tragic accident several years back. They are leaving their remote holiday home for the final time when the toilet breaks, prompting the arrival of the maniacal plumber, Dom (played by Jason Ward Kennedy). Dom’s presence, at first welcomed, soon becomes uncomfortable, and it is not long before he has the unhappy couple tied to chairs, at which point he forces them to examine their relationship while at the same time exposing his own fears and insecurities.

The show begins a little clumsily, with the actors mumbling quite a few of their lines, but the show picks up upon Dom’s arrival and remains engaging for the remainder. Glenn Ashworth and Erin Banks have designed a nice set, using grating for the walls of the house which give an appropriate sense of being caged, although at times actors looked directly though these ‘walls’ and it may have been valuable for the cast to establish how they worked within the world of the play.

While I was certainly pleased to see a good, conventional thriller up on the stage, I felt that play failed to develop much beyond a ‘tie-em-up and gag em’ scenario, and though it tried desperately to penetrate the human psyche it didn’t quite manage to convince me. I didn’t feel that the characters had learnt anything from their experience, and were ultimately the same as when they set out – unhappy. Or perhaps that’s precisely the point – that, despite the truth being thrust in front of us, we still fail to see all the great things we’ve got. At any rate, any show which has blood is ok by me.

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