Presented by State Theatre Company of South Australia
Reviewed 2 Dec 2020
For their final offering of 2020, the State Theatre Company of South Australia presents David Lindsay-Abaire’s mischievous production, Ripcord.
Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire’s script is perfectly written. From razor-sharp comedy that has the audience laughing out loud, to tender, heartfelt moments, Ripcord is the night out that we all need after the roller-coaster that has been 2020.
Mitchell Butel’s direction is tight. The whole production is well thought through, planned and executed. Butel has left no detail in this production unturned. From simple hand movements to subtle smiles (like the cheeky one Nancye Hayes’ character flashes right at the end of Act 1), Butel’s direction makes you forget you are in a theatre watching a play, but rather sitting in a room at any aged-care facility watching a real life event unfold.
Butel has gathered a stellar cast for this production of Ripcord. The cast of six, led by stage veterans Nancye Hayes and Carmel Johnson are faultless in their performance. Hayes and Johnson work extremely well against each other. Hayes, playing forthright Abby, draws from her wealth of theatre experience to show the audience that there is more to this character than it initially seems – hiding behind her brashness is a hurt past she is desperately trying to hide from the world. Johnson’s portrayal of Marilyn brings all the warmth and joy that this role needs. Together they are a force to be reckoned with in this production.
They are supported by Chris Asimos, Nathan Page, Jennifer Innes and Ezra Juanta, who each bring their own stage magic. Asimos, playing care-facility employee Scotty, has the task of getting between the battling Abby and Marilyn. Asimos handles some of the tender moments of the show so delicately, which highlights his ability to draw every nuance from the script.
Page, Innes and Juanta, all play several characters in Ripcord, and do so with great conviction – at times, it felt that the cast was larger than just six.
Ripcord is supported by a phenomenal behind the scenes team that brings immense skill and talent to this production. The lighting design, by Gavin Norris, complements each scene perfectly. Special mention must go to the clever use of light from different angles through the window to show the sun’s path through the sky at different times of day. Andrew Howard’s sound design and compositions for Ripcord are a real standout. Not only does it set the mood between scenes, it really adds to some real suspenseful and touching moments. The pre-show, intermission and post-show playlists also emphasised the era in which the main characters were born. Costume design by Enken Hagge brilliantly reflects the personality and character traits of the whole cast.
The set, designed by Ailsa Paterson, is sensational. A huge amount of thought has gone into the planning of how the use of a rotating platform can assist smooth and seamless scene changes. Along with the set, a huge amount of detail has gone into the set dressing.
Ripcord, whilst set in America, could easily be set anywhere in the world. While many shows resonate better in their own country than in other parts of the world, this show could have easily been set in Australia, with only a few ‘Americanisms’ in the script.
With all of its plot twists and turns, Ripcord is a guaranteed feel-good, laugh-out-loud night at the theatre.
Reviewed by Ben Stefanoff
Rating out of 5: 5
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse
Season: Until 13 Dec 2020
Photo credit: Chris Herzfeld