Rocket Man (Subtlenuance)

Rocket_Man_Hero_Shot_low_res.jpg  902×586Venue: TAP Gallery (Darlinghurst NSW), Jul 4 – 14, 2013
Playwright: Paul Gilchrist
Director: Paul Gilchrist
Actors: Daniel Hunter, Sylvia Keays, Alyssan Russell, Stephen Wilkinson
Photo Credit: Zorica Purlija

Theatre review
There’s something charming about a play that transports you from the real world, and into a world of theatrical hyperrealism. The actors’ performances, the uncomplicated set, the lack of lighting and audio effects, the language and structure of the script, all contribute to creating an unabridged, uncondensed fly-on-the-wall glimpse into a single hour inside one small bedroom.

Director and playwright Paul Gilchrist begins with several interesting self-referential elements that help connect with and acknowledge the audience, but mostly, his script seems to be concerned only with developing four characters’ journeys within that one hour. This allows a wealth of scope for the actors to explore and actualise their individual roles; and it is indeed their performances that are the most gratifying about this production. There is however, a fragmentation that exists from a lack of chemistry between certain characters, and prevents the story from being even more compelling. The actors have developed their own characters thoroughly and convincingly but they do seem to require a greater understanding of what the other players are trying to achieve, in order to incorporate those other perspectives and tell a more authentic story.

Stephen Wilkinson plays a supporting role in terms of stage time, but gives a wonderfully honest performance, creating a Justin that is truly touching in his vulnerability (even though his spectacles and hairstyle suggests that Justin should probably be an accountant, rather than a house painter). Daniel Hunter is central to the story and lives up to the challenge. His transformation from adorable man in underwear, to violent freaked out monster during the course of the play, without a moment spent offstage, is impressive. If only his leading lady would be more responsive when he does all he can to antagonise her.