Sunday 10 November 2013

The Maintenance Room - Review

Reviewed by Regi Su
From the 7th until the 30th of November, King Street Theatre presents “The Maintenance Room”, a play of existential proportions. Written by Gerry Greenland and Directed by Allan Walpole, this play was clever, enticing and I walked away feeling very satisfied.

The premise: a businessman is unhappy with his current situation and when just about to make a serious life decision, he chances upon a man who brings new perspective and excitement. It’s a very interesting theme on which to base a play off. I loved it, every minute of it and by that I was pleasantly surprised. It touched on Jungian themes and dallied them a little, it touched on the deep and existential, then diverted to quick wit and humour. It used conventional narrative techniques like dramatic irony and although there were only two characters, they took on more personas and let the audience engage with their imaginations. The set was elaborate and yet so very appropriate and the design, sound design and lighting was perfect. All of these basic elements of theatre were employed and it came together as a very well-polished play.

The release of information was timely in that in a picaresque fashion, the information prompted in me questions, which they then answered. I was hooked along the general narrative structure, it was absorbing. The characterisation was refreshingly consistent. There were a number of plot twists and at each turn, I felt comfortable to go there with the character. They were believable because they were authentic and commendations are in order for Kim Knuckey and Lynden Jones for their tremendous and powerful performances, holding a very long two-man play. The climaxes were well-identified and isolated and the resolution was justifiably understandable; I felt confident in the actions of the characters and the hands of the playwright. I didn’t care about the characters as suchI wasn’t emotionally invested but, I was connected to them just enough to be concerned and that’s all you need for audience engagement.

The themes make this play more than just any old play, the themes make it accessible- to be played by anyone, of any calibre or any gender. The play was timeless in it’s exploration of issues like personal betrayal, the importance of reputation, money matters or life in general. It was just a very satisfying night, and I felt that some of the minor character details were congruent enough for me to have a feasible holistic image in my head; for example one character mentions a spiritual journey to The East, but we’re already open to it because we saw him wear a sarung earlier and we’re primed by postcards of the Taj Mahal in the background. The whole production was very clever and a good night of theatre.

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