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September 21, 2009 | by  | in Theatre |
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Good Night – The End

theatre

Harvester of Sorrow (Jo Randerson) is not happy. She is either a grim reaper or at the very least is paid to portray one. Over the course of Good Night – The End, she mopes around her workplace’s staff room. In between totally failing to smoke and drinking far too much Milo she has to deal with her co-workers, the dim and obese Unavoidable Destiny (Felicity McDonnell) and the fastidious and neurotic Transitional Friend (Thomas LaHood), and their many petty grievances. Their boss, an effusive, erotic Italian who may also be the devil (Aaron Cortesi), pops in and out, to gyrate a bit or simply show them the best way to drink Milo. And well, that’s pretty much it. While the plot does somewhat pick up in its second half, there is a general feeling of inertia throughout Good Night – The End.

Like most plays on the subject of the between times, the stuff you do when you’re not doing stuff, Good Night feels slightly lethargic. The energy of performance, on the night I saw it at least, started low and never really picked up. This is a play designed to be done in the lowest of keys, and because of that it is swallowed up in the vast space of Downstage, making the play more lethargic than muted.

While clearly playing with the theatrical ideas of clowns and clowning, the script resorts far too readily to stereotypes and clichés. In between the truly inspired moments of wit come jokes as old and funny as dust, making the play at points feel much more workman-like than it really is. A joke about AIDS that seems to be setting up an important plot point is quickly ignored and never raised again, making it more offensive and mean-spirited than amusing. Also, the play’s obsession with staying unclear as to the true nature of the characters’ work—are they actually death or just pretending?—means the work feels somewhat unconnected and distant.

The design, however, is really amazing. Sean Coyle’s joyously garish set juxtaposes against the action perfectly and Piet Asplet’s lights fill the space with mood. Nic McGowan’s soundscape and music are perfect and worth the price of entry alone.

The director, Andrew Foster, has a fine eye for images and an amazing sense of creating a place in which the play could occur. It just seems a pity that the performances were not encouraged to rise up and fill it.

Good Night – The End is a fine script and a fine production, but seemingly of two different works. The play and the place never really matched, and one wonders if would have been more successful in a more intimate setting like BATS or Circa Two.

Good Night – The End
Written by Jo Randerson
Directed by Andrew Foster
With Jo Randerson, Felicity McDonnell, Aaron Cortesi and Thomas LaHood

At Downstage, 11 Sept–3 Oct 2009
Book at www.downstage.co.nz

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About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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