Venue: Sidetrack Theatre (Marrickville NSW), Jul 3 – 13, 2013
Playwright: Jonathan Gavin
Director: Lara Kerestes
Actors: Leighton Cardno, Wade Doolan, Karli Evans, Lara Lightfoot, Matt Stewart
Advance promotional imagery for Tiger Country has been polished and seductive in spite of its “rough as guts” subject matter. Accordingly, visual design of this production is also exceptional. Most costume pieces are well thought out, helping to materialise some of the most frightful and revolting characters on the Australian stage. Set design is innovative, efficient, and creates the appropriately sinister and vulgar mood in which all the action takes place. Lighting design is sophisticatedly intelligent, operated accurately and sensitively by the show’s crew. Design and stage management for this low budget production is truly incomparable.
Disappointingly, the performance feels under-rehearsed even though the actors do genuinely display a good level of commitment and discipline. Lara Lightfoot stands out with a certain interior authenticity that matches her character’s physical crudeness. In addition to the fragility inherent in the script, she brings strength and bravery that help create a fascinating and multi-dimensional role.
The pace of the entire piece feels monotonously slow, which is more fitting in its darker moments, but the show fails to buoy up in several key scenes that need to be contrastingly lighter or louder. Perhaps several edits should have been made for things to be more taut and tense. The plot tries to gravitate toward a central character, “Chuckles” who takes centre stage at the conclusion, but too many sub-plots and support characters dilute and distract from what would have been a more gratifying and direct narrative.