Presented by St Judes Players Inc.
Reviewed 12 November 2015
Soulmates is a humorous, playful and at times emotional stage production that delves into the literary world’s debate over the difference in authorial integrity between the often condemned “superficial” commercial literature, compared to that of intense and emotional “artistic” literature.
It follows the intertwined lives of three different couples who are all connected through the literary world, and an affair that emerges from these connections. Australian celebrity author Katie Best has relocated to New York, but she doesn’t escape a scathing review of her latest book by Melbourne literature critic Danny, who believes her work is superficial crap.
To seek her revenge, Katie uses her celebrity connections to set up what was meant to be a brief affair between Danny’s sweet and naïve wife Heather and his favourite author, the famous Max Van Niekerk. The plan though goes south when Heather falls heavily for Max’s sweet yet empty words, ending in a bizarre and embarrassingly eventful debate at the Melbourne Writers Festival.
The humour is successfully witty with the characters continually throwing out sharp one-liners that are either sexually provocative or cunningly cruel to the other characters. As the play takes place just after the 9/11 bombing in 2001, many jokes crudely refer to race, America’s unwavering patriotism and the plight of the upper class who seem largely un-touched after such a horrible event.
Director Mary-Jane Minear is outwardly creative, yet cleverly simple in her use of the stage to successfully present various locations without confusion for the audience. Her use of bringing actors into the audience, which is not often seen, is a triumph for the show’s crucial scene near the end of the show.
All actors are fantastic and make obvious their years of stage experience, giving strong personalities to their contrasting characters. Joanne St Clair is especially devilish as the rich upper class Katie who cunningly devises to get her revenge on Danny. Although starting the show slightly tentative, she ends up stealing scenes with her loud, cackling laughter and brash, cutting one-liners.
Brian Knott is a stand-out as the strong-minded Danny, especially in the more emotionally charged scenes where he’s in direct confrontation with Katie. He brilliantly portrays the slurring, argumentative drunk who doesn’t know when to shut up, as well as the more sensitive and emotional husband to his un-faithful wife.
Actor Andrew Horwood is excellent in his role of the sleazy and self-centred international author Max. He nails the tricky South African accent, as well as his character’s ridiculously cheesy and dramatic seduction of Heather, which leaves the audience in giggles.
The show is a real delight and will leave you not only chuckling, but, on a deeper note, also questioning the integrity behind our most famous authors and their works.
Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Venue: St Judes Hall, 444 Brighton Road, Brighton
Season: 12 – 21 November
Duration: 2 ½ hours (20 minute intermission)
Tickets: $7.00 – $20.00