Review: Fallout (Smoking Gum Theatre)

smokinggum1Venue: Exchange Hotel (Balmain NSW), Mar 18 – 27, 2015
Playwright: Lauren Pearce
Director: Finn Davis
Actors: Michele Conyngham, Ian Ferrington, Jim Fishwick, Louise Harding, Moreblessing Maturure, Patrick Trumper

Theatre review
It is admirably audacious that artists go out on a limb, almost as part of their job description, to experiment in public and to risk failure in spectacular style for all to see. The nature of theatre as a commercial experience requires that strict deadlines are to be adhered to, so that a show has to have at least a semblance of readiness on its advertised opening night. Smoking Gum Theatre’s Fallout needs, among other things, more time in its creative process. Lauren Pearce makes her debut with an apocalyptic script, ambitious with big ideas, but her characters are not sufficiently formed, and its structure is not yet settled.

Most things can be said to have room for improvement, especially in art where nothing is perfect, but Fallout is a distance away from being able to communicate its intentions. Direction by Finn Davis does not deviate from the writing, and he show signs of an adventurous spirit in the way he choreographs physical movement for the piece. Performances are apprehensively grounded. It is a very quiet approach that shows little inventiveness, but actors Moreblessing Maturure and Patrick Trumper demonstrate good focus and conviction. Design is a challenge in the makeshift venue, and the creative team’s efforts are evident especially Angela Toomey’s video projections, which add a touch of polish to the production.

Outside of our education institutions, young artists have to brave the same conditions as all other theatre practitioners. Any paying audience will have expectations, and it can be a cruel world for those who achieve less than desired. Fortunately, it is rarely a dramatic case of sink or swim, because the factor of time is crucial to all artistic practice. It is the body of work over the expanse of a career that matters, and it is longevity and tenacity of the last persons standing that will make an impact.