Review: V.D. (Copanirvana Theatre Co / Sydney Independent Theatre Company)

sitco2Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Oct 28 – Nov 15, 2014
Playwright: Pete Malicki
Director: Lisa Eismen
Cast: Eliza St John
Image by Katy Green Loughrey

Theatre review
This is a story about a woman in love only with two things; herself and alcohol. Pete Malicki’s script is crafted with some skill. His jokes are incessant, and timed with a natural flair. His characters are abused and ridiculed, and no one is presented in a positive light. There is very little beauty and inspiration in the play, but it has a humour that will appeal to many. It is a harsh truth that Australians find alcohol funny. We laugh at people making destructive decisions and falling over due to drunkenness, and V.D. capitalises on that unfortunate part of our culture. It also takes advantage of the fact that making women desperate and dateless gets laughs easily. Sophie Webb is hopeless, almost idiotic, but she is not unrealistic, and of course, our artistic landscape must make room for all kinds of characters no matter how undesirable.

The script is skilfully executed by director Lisa Eismen and actor Eliza St John. Presentation of the comedy is wide ranging, from the very broad to the very subtle. Character development is sometimes uncomfortable in the plot, but the women manage to create a narrative that is often believable, although the show’s ending is quite bewildering. St John’s performance is masterful. She is wild, intuitive and considered, with a conviction that can turn water into wine. Her work is completely absorbing, and she manages to endear herself to her captive crowd, like using sleight of hand techniques to mask the hideous uselessness of the woman she portrays.

The world can be an ugly place, and it is necessary to know its flaws. The theatre is not reserved for snowdrops and daffodils, and artists must not be censored, but audiences look for morals in stories, and maybe even find meaning in listening to what is being said. What V.D. articulates is sometimes true, but also very sad indeed. Life is worth living because of hope, and we need to acknowledge the darkness that we live with, but we must always recognise it as such.

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