Review: Replay (Griffin Theatre Company)

griffinVenue: SBW Stables Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Apr 2 – May 7, 2016
Playwright: Phillip Kavanagh
Director: Lee Lewis
Cast: Jack Finsterer, Alfie Gledhill, Anthony Gooley
Image by Brett Boardman

Theatre review
It is an experimental script that plays with the elasticity of characters. We expect a certain amount of consistency from personalities in plays, and indeed in life, but Phillip Kavanagh’s Replay uses the idea of regret as motivation, to allow people in his story to go back in time to make amends, thus altering histories that lead to the present being inevitably changed. The concept fascinates, but the unconventional plot disrupts any emotional arc that could take hold, and we are presented with the challenge of engaging with characters who never become familiar.

The production is elegantly formed, with only minimal amounts of embellishment indicating its supernatural qualities. Director Lee Lewis is intent on giving a sense of authenticity to every moment, which results in scenes that are individually captivating, but the unusual writing prevents a feeling of poignancy to translate even though the intensity on stage is unmistakeable.

Performances are lively, with actors tending to do a little more than is necessary, but their energy and cohesive chemistry make them an endearing group that sustains our interest throughout the piece. Jack Finsterer is particularly delightful. Even when adopting the show’s animated tone of performance, the actor is able to retain a psychological and emotional accuracy amidst the constantly shifting time and space in which we find ourselves. Alfie Gledhill and Anthony Gooley are expressive actors who bring logic and coherence to a narrative that can easily turn confusing, both with a spirited approach that provides solid entertainment.

We have all experienced regret, and many of us have pasts that hold on too tightly. In our fantasies, the rules of time can be broken, and we can make every wrong right, so that life becomes completely disencumbered. Life without any difficulty is however, akin to death. It is fundamental to humanity that we strive to make things better. Stillness is a privilege that everyone must be able to savour every so often, but the essence of life is in its movement; of forging ahead, and of growing up. Regression can be made to look real on stage, but it ultimately is of service to no one. Looking back is sometimes necessary, but care must be taken so that we do not remain shackled by histories. It is the great unknown of the future that requires our attention, and we must endeavour to make the most of it.