Presented by Adelaide Repertory Theatre
Reviewed 24 June 2017
This is a whodunit, murder mystery that produces a somewhat psychologically disturbing twist no-one saw coming, with a few laughs along the way.
After placing a small ad (written in crayon as everyone likes to remind him) in his window advertising psychic readings, a down-and-out, wanna-be murder mystery writer is visited by the beautiful, married Laura Benson who is unsure whether to divorce her gambling and cheating husband. Although not a real psychic Adam Webster tries to do his best to fake his way through the psychic reading but fails to impress. As Benson begins to leave though, out of nowhere Webster is hit with the knowledge that her husband is planning to kill her, and this begins the twisting and turning murder mystery that Webster has now found himself involved in.
The Psychic is an enjoyably unusual take on a traditional genre (which is what drew Director Erik Strauts to the story) and provides a contrasting show to the typical murder mystery that is loved within theatre. All elements of the production come together nicely and it is so very close to being a great production, but unfortunately the comedic timing is missing in just too many instances. Given that though, when the timing is spot on it leaves the audience in stitches of laughter, unfortunately, though, just not quite enough.
Set designer Patrick Beagen, set construction manager Stanley Tuck and props/set dressing organiser Esther Michelson (as well as the set construction team) need to pat themselves on their backs as the set itself is one of the most impressive things about The Psychic. The amount of effort that has been put into such a creative and well produced backdrop is obvious and creates an incredibly realistic setting that immediately transports the audience to Webster’s dingy basement apartment.
The cleverly chosen props of bookshelves made from basic wood planks and cinder blocks and plastic milk crates used as tables make it very clear that this is not the apartment of someone with a lot of money. These props are combined with an impressively painted backdrop that actually looks like water-stained, baby-poo coloured walls with old, peeling wallpaper with bricks peeping through. And the most impressive element of the set is the fact that there are high up windows in these walls within which you can see characters walking past at what would be street level through the inspirational use of scaffolding behind the scenes.
All actors are enjoyable to watch perform, but, as mentioned before, unfortunately the comedic timing within many of their interactions is not quite right, though after a few more shows this may become a non-issue. Jessica McGaffin as Benson’s husband’s mistress, Rita Malone, is an absolute stand out and is practically faultless in her bold and energetic portrayal of a morally eschewed gold digger. Mentions must also be made of James Black and Malcolm Walton who have clearly thrown themselves into their roles of humorously over-dramatic and bizarre characters who provide many laughs throughout the night.
An interesting take on a traditional genre that provides an enjoyable and humorous night out for those who enjoy murder mysteries full of colourful characters.
Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Venue: Arts Theatre, 53 Angas Street, Adelaide CBD
Season: 22 June – 1 July
Duration: 1 hour 45 mins (15 min intermission)
Tickets: $17 – $22