REVIEW: In a Bony Embrace | Hayman Theatre
My ears always prick up when I hear of a new play written or co-devised by Gita Bezard; she’s one of this town’s strongest emerging playwrights – her works are usually bold, offbeat, quirky, fiery at points, and oddball at others. She adds a touch of the surreal, a dollop of nostalgia for her youth, and a hint of playful danger to create a strange mix of sincerity and irony that keeps you on your toes. And her latest play created with Curtin University’s Hayman Theatre, In a Bony Embrace, is a fun party mix that delivers all these elements and further solidifies her particular brand.
Set in a hot pink box designed by Sally Phipps, filled with modular pastel-coloured retro-IKEA-style furniture, ten talented Curtin students deliver a fast-paced and topical sweet treat of a show. In a Bony Embrace explores modern love in our dizzying times of dating apps and office affairs, looking at how we go from flavour-of-the-week relationships to something more permanent and meaningful. There are a couple of overlapping storylines, and characters hooking up, breaking up, then breaking out. Director Adam Mitchell keeps these 10 actors in line, literally, and then lets them loose in vignettes that display their considerable individual talents.
The characters are familiar types, from the central sensitive male character Matt (Kane Parker), who displays wonderful vulnerability, to the empowered April (Chelsea Gibson) who has no intention of settling or compromising, but may not be so good at commitment. There are two secondary couples, Danny (Tristan McInnes) and Harry (Daisy Coyle) whose budding office romance explodes into energetic action, and Lila (Beth Tremlett) and Gavin (Nathan Whitebrook) whose coupling is run aground by an interfering cactus plant. There is the protective best friend, Sylvia (Anna Lindstedt), the jilted lover Sam (Alexander Gerrans), and the obnoxious and smarmy dating app date Jaxon (Sean Guastavino). Lastly, we have Holly (Jessica Nyanda Moyle) whose scenes consist solely of her having a conversation with her lover, who is voiced by herself, as she holds an empty glass jar (is her lover in the jar somewhere? we don’t know for sure), surrounded by smoke and mirrorball lights.
Bezard’s characters are familiar in another way too – having seen her in a few different pieces with her fellow Last Great Hunters Adriane Daff and Arielle Gray, I could easily imagine the three of them together as the three main female characters in In a Bony Embrace. This points to Bezard’s unique voice, having certain recognizable, trademark elements. The play jumps between a few locales and realities, at times somewhat breaking the fourth wall. We travel through Matt’s inner (though blatantly inaccurate) monologue, narrated by groups of the other actors, and we also travel outside of the linear narrative to a philosophical universal space. It’s easy to keep up though, and there isn’t a weak spot to be found in the ensemble.
Set to a running soundtrack of Britney Spears covers, with plenty of infectious humor and easy weirdness, this is a light, bright and fun end to the year of emerging and independent theatre from Curtin and The Blue Room.
There are four sessions left, twice Friday-Saturday December 11-12 at 6pm & 8:30 pm.
Book tickets here.