Review: Love (Shut The Front Door)

shutthefrontdoorVenue: PACT Theatre (Erskineville NSW), June 2 – 6, 2015
Playwright: Patricia Cornelius
Director: Sean O’Riordan
Cast: Kimberly Kelly, Ebony Halliday, Ford Sarhan

Theatre review
Art can tackle any subject matter, but when it ventures into the more obscure parts of life, artist and viewer must both find a way of communication that achieves some level of resonance. Patricia Cornelius’ Love features three young drug addicts and their aimless existences. Nothing they experience is more than fleeting pleasures, except for the romantic love that they may, or may not, have found. Cornelius’ use of language is an interesting exploration into the speech of young Australians from the low rungs of life’s echelon. They speak plainly, but their words do not express depth of thought and emotion. The best they can manage is frustration, which is perhaps a true representation of youth. For many theatregoers, the characters’ lives are distant and objectionable, and although Sean O’Riordan’s direction translates plot lines well, we struggle to find any common ground. Horrible things happen but finding empathy is challenging.

The performers begin the piece with insufficient passion, but eventually find their feet to portray more genuine sentiments in the latter half. The play is about love and romance, but we are rarely able to be convinced of the relationships on stage, which unfortunately makes the production quite precarious at many points. Ford Sarhan provides good support as Lenny, with a natural comic ability that can deliver laughs at will. Even though the actor can feel like the show’s saving grace, his style of performance does not always find cohesion with his colleagues, and the tone he introduces, although delightful, seems to run contrary to intentions of the text. Leading ladies Kimberly Kelly and Ebony Halliday are less charming, but both manage to provide strong focus and poignancy at the end.

For some, the only thing worth living for are the relationships they foster. Those less fortunate might have nothing but a string of pointless moments interrupted only by emptiness. Creating a life with meaning does not come easy, but with education and age, enlightenment is always within reach for those of us in the developed world. Love asks us to think of the young and how we treat them. Our prejudices are put to test, but converting fundamental beliefs is a difficult task, and compassion proves not to come spontaneously in all cases.