The Stables, 28 Vardon Avenue, rear of the Stag Hotel corner Rundle Street and East Terrace
Reviewed Saturday February 20th 2010 (See Fringe guide for dates, times, etc.)
Presented by Accidental Productions
http://adelaidefringe.com.au or 1300 FRINGE (374 643)
Bookings: Fringetix & Venuetix outlets
This production is a collection of three short plays by Ethan Coen; Waiting, directed by Dee Easton, Four Benches, directed by Mark Fantasia, and The Debate, directed by Joh Hartog. Coen, and his brother Joel, are best known for the films that they make together, but Ethan has recently embraced playwriting, this work having had its off-Broadway debut in 2008.
The first play finds a man in a waiting room, with no doors and only a silent receptionist, typing away madly, to keep him company. From time to time we see him facing officials who delay him further at each encounter until the final truth is revealed.
The second has four scenes, each involving a bench, the first scene being in a steam-room where a British gent, fully dressed and even wearing his bowler hat, has a chance meeting with a Texan whilst waiting to meet somebody completely different. This meeting is definitely not to the Texan’s advantage.
In the final scene God meets God in a debate. The God of the Old Testament is a judging god who stirs up the fire and brimstone whilst the other is the unconditionally loving God. Other people and other debates quickly follow.
There is an anarchic humour running through these three plays that generates plenty of laughs, although there is a tendency at times to play it for laughs, rather than allow the script to do its job, so some sections could be even funnier.
The casts are well balanced with standout performances from Mark Fantasia as Nelson in the first play, Kurt Murray as One and Alan Grace as Earl/Mr. Boodrum in the second play, and Tim Overton as the God Who Judges in the third. Mark Fantasia and Todd Gray defy description and really have to be seen for yourself in their roles as angels. Catch this one if you can.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, GLAM Adelaide Arts Editor