Presented by Sharmini Kumar
Reviewed 15 March 2017
Fresh from a successful run in Melbourne, Shakespeare in Therapy is a new work that explores many of Shakespeare’s famous characters as they seek therapy in the afterlife. The concept is an interesting and amusing one which, for the most part, provides an enjoyable night at the theatre.
As the audience enters they are prompted to make themselves comfortable with biscuits, hot drinks and nametags. For all intents and purposes this is a real therapy session with complete strangers. The mood that this venue and staging sets is perfect for the piece as the actors move freely around the room just as if it were actually therapy.
Sharmini Kumar’s writing is full of humour and heart as it ranges the depth and breadth of the Shakespearean canon. Some characters are better drawn than others and some dialogue is a little repetitive – although this may have been due to improvised lines – but the show remains engaging throughout. With more workshopping this script could really achieve the potential that it shows here. Her direction is clear but reliant heavily on certain repeated gestures. Actors awkwardly give touches of support or grab a chair to put their feet up unnecessarily. These things do not overtly detract from the overall experience but do serve to make it appear less natural.
The talent levels of the cast vary but this could be as a result of the way their characters are written. Danielle Robinson as Desdemona is understated but this works well against some of the bigger personalities in the show. Some of her dialogue was difficult to hear even in the small space. Karanvir Malhotra is a brooding Othello but struggles to make the character’s struggles believable. As a teen/punk/rebel Ophelia, Eva Justine Torkkola is the standout as she delivers her many comic lines with gusto. This character is clearly the most thought out and has more lines than many of the others combined.
In the classic role of Romeo is Kieran Gould-Dowen who plays the classic lover with an interesting lecherous edge. His humour delivers well but there doesn’t seem to be quite enough for him to do to fulfil any important character development. Adrian Quintarelli works well with limited characterisation as Fool despite having a tendency to yell unneccesarily. He begins well as a person without a place in the world but his character doesn’t seem to go anywhere and soon peters out into nothingness.
Playing the key role of the therapist, Darby Turbull has a calm and reassuring demeanour that well matches his role. Unforunately he doesn’t feed off the energy of the cast and his dialogue, although well delivered, comes across a little pre-prepared. Kotryna Gesait displays great physicality as Lady Macbeth but her sudden lapses into delirium are a little unclear and she seems to take them too calmly. Her broad comedy does serve to make a few laughs in her brief appearance. Alexandra Katelanis provides the majority of the drama for the piece as she struggles to identify her place in her complex marriage with Petruchio. At times this writing is lovely, at others it is too heavy handed. Katelanis does well with what she is given.
This show is definitely an enjoyable one despite some kinks along the way. Its setting is perfect and the tone of the writing goes along with this perfectly. If you’re interested in supporting up-and-coming theatre then this is one to catch before the Fringe closes.
Reviewed by Nathan Quadrio
Rating out of 5: 3.5
Venue: SA Writer’s Centre
Season: March 15th – March 18th
Duration: 60 mintues
Tickets: $10.50 – $23