Review: Unfinished Works (Bontom Productions)

bontomVenue: Seymour Centre (Chippendale NSW), Mar 23 – Apr 2, 2016
Playwright: Thomas De Angelis
Director: Clemence Williams
Cast: Deborah Galano, Kyle Kazmarziks, Lucy Goleby, Contessa Treffone, Rhett Walton

Theatre review (of a preview performance)
Thomas De Angelis’ Unfinished Works talks about art and the selling of art, but it is also concerned with how young people discover adulthood, and the challenges it presents. Strong themes and engaging characters give the play its allure, but its ideas are not always as clever as they wish to be. Dialogue and plot structure also require further refinement and deeper thought, but its concluding, and climactic, scenes are fortunately the most effective and powerful of its two-hour duration.

There is an earnest and provocative spirit, introduced by director Clemence Williams, who explores the text with great honesty and is always conscious of giving proceedings a dimension of emotional intensity. There could be more humour in the way characters interact, and a less innocent approach to the portrayal of their individual foibles, but Williams’ work is thoughtful and energetic, and a delight to connect with. Bringing visual sophistication is designer Charles Davis, who finds simple but smart solutions to accompany the production’s examination and representation of the art world. His set and lights are minimal in style, but very charming indeed.

Lucy Goleby does an astonishing job as Frank, the complicated art star with a lot of weight on her shoulders. Goleby’s portrayals of fear and cynicism feels thoroughly authentic, and the assertive confidence that persist alongside all her insecurities is fascinating to observe. The pairing of vulnerability and strength is beautifully inhabited by the actor, and it is that palpable humanity she depicts that keeps us engrossed. The other leading lady of the piece is Contessa Treffone who plays Isabel, a young woman finding her place in the world, defining her self against family and negotiating grey areas of ambition and sex. Treffone shows strong focus and conviction, and although slightly twee in tone, she is more than capable of holding our attention. The chemistry between both women is full of sparks and a real joy to watch. Unfinished Works does not explicitly discuss the issue of feminism, but there is no need to, because the women it places on stage are prime examples of how we are and how we should be seen; independent, intelligent, ambitious, and frightfully flawed.