Review: The Big Time (Ensemble Theatre)

Venue: Ensemble Theatre (Kirribilli NSW), Jan 18 – Mar 16, 2019
Playwright: David Williamson
Director: Mark Kilmurry
Cast: Claudia Barrie, Zoe Carides, Aileen Huynh, Matt Minto, Jeremy Waters, Ben Wood
Images by Brett Boardman
Theatre review
Celia and Rohan are lovers in the film industry, both trying to advance their careers onto the next step. In David Williamson’s The Big Time, we see the dirty business of betrayal, jealousy and deception, operating in a dog eat dog world, in which integrity seems almost certain to make one a loser. Laden with cliché and implausible characters, the play’s narrative never manages to become convincing, even if the story does feel like it has been told a hundred times before. The shallowness of the people we meet may bear some semblance of truth, but there is little that we are able to relate to, in Williamson’s oversimplified depiction of their approaches to work and life.

As Celia, Aileen Huynh is able to bring some emotional intensity to the piece, but her sense of humour proves incompatible with what the show requires. Jeremy Waters’ energetic presence as Rohan helps to sustain our interest, particularly enjoyable in a handful of scenes with Ben Wood’s Rolly, in which we witness the only moments of chemistry on this stage. Director Mark Kilmurry keeps a close eye on performances, careful to prevent his actors from transforming the production into a campy farce, but the earnestness at which the show is calibrated, does make the experience somewhat lacklustre.

It is funny that we take show business so seriously. The billions of dollars poured into the entertainment industry can seem a waste of resources, but it reflects the lightness of our beings that can never be underestimated. We want to have a good time, and it can often seem that escapism comprises a substantial portion of our realities. Business does however, on occasion, make transactions with art, when a deeper investigation into the human condition can accompany the procurement of enjoyment. It is a rare beast that can combine things amusing with that which is truly important, and most of the time, we are grateful to encounter just one of those elements.