A State of Affairs

A State of Affairs Accidental ProductionsPresented by Accidental Productions
Reviewed Sat 14th August 2010

Venue: Bakehouse Theatre, 255 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 8pm Wed to until Sat 28th August
Duration: 2hrs 10min incl interval
Tickets: $22 Adults, $18 Concession, Students $16.
Bookings: or phone 8227 0505

Written in 1985, Graham Swannell’s four short plays look, primarily, at the superficiality of the male in a marriage or other relationship. No surprises for guessing, therefore, that the females in the audience laughed loudest. Director, Joh Hartog, has hit on a winning script at a time near the end of a dreary winter when we could all use a good laugh, and there are plenty to be had here. Hartog keeps the action moving and, although there is much humour, he also subtly touches on the deeper issues within the relationships.

The first play, Stuttgart, finds Terrence agonising over how to explain to Caroline that, over the time they have been married, his sexual appetites have diminished and intercourse once a month, rather than the current average of several times a day, would be sufficient. He role plays the scenario, trying to refine it to the point where he thinks his request might work. She then enters the bedroom and he begins his carefully prepared speech, quickly realising his error. Tim Overton and Katie O’Reilly open the evening with this very funny piece, picking up on the snappy dialogue and the awkwardness of the situation and creating a couple of believable characters that, no doubt, many would relate to. O’Reilly’s strong woman and Overton’s subservient man are a neatly balanced double act.

In Consequences, Jack and Francis are about to part after another of their secretive meetings in a hotel room, each about to return to their respect marriage partners. At the start of their affair, a year ago, he insisted that they agree that it was to remain only about sex, but now she wants to know exactly how he feels about her. Nic English and Charlotte Rees are the philandering pair, with a brief appearance from O’Reilly as his wife. This one really send up men in a big way and English, as the self-centred jerk, and Rees as the misled woman, draw on the tension of the situation, finding the comedy, but also the sadness of wasted lives below the humour.

In The Day of the Dog we find two mates out on the town, bumping into an old friend, Allan, who has just had a brief affair, a one afternoon stand in which he was swept off his feet and lost all control of his better judgement. He, foolishly as it turns out, thought that he was doing the right thing by telling his wife the truth. They try to console him, but are distracted by the two attractive girls at the next table. Nic Krieg joins the other four, with English playing the straying husband. Again, there is sadness underlying the laughter and this is handled well, with a particularly fine line walked by English in the pivotal role.

In Commitment a young couple, Ellis and Joanna, with a son in his ‘terrible twos’, are discovered at the point where he has just gone to sleep. They lament the loss of freedom and fun that they had before he was born and complain about what now seems to be a life of constant work and exhaustion, leaving them even too tired for sex. Overton and Rees are the couple who, eventually, realise that they are not so badly off after all once O’Reilly, as their friend Julia, arrives with news. Again there is some good work from Overton and Rees, with a sensitive approach to their characterisations.

This is an evening of fun, but with an undercurrent of a deeper exploration of relationships which makes the humour work better because that foundation.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor Glam Adelaide.

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