The West Australian, August 14th, 2001

From The West Australian newspaper on Tuesday August 14th, 2001.

Disparate Lives


Emerging from the Collective Unconscious

Blue Room

Review: Naomi Millet

THIS Blue Room season comprises four short plays on diverse themes, written and performed by members of the theatre collaborative, Collective Unconscious.

David Hayward's monologue Nice Eyes, performed by Darren Day, demonstrates the playwright's keen ear for the rhythms and subject matter of adolescent speech.

Dressed in casual clothes and a baseball cap, Day ambles on stage and begins talking to us as if we're together with him at a bus stop, killing time until something more interesting comes along.

The amiable, unnamed character seems calm but troubled and has a need to talk. He jumps from topic to topic, musing and supposing, punctuating every few sentences with "Have you ever wondered?" and growing more excitable as his imagination runs riot.

Being watched by the audience's eyes reminds him of going camping and being afraid of monsters in the dark, and Day effects a convincing, childlike innocence as he relates this tale.

Several more anecdotes follow - half recalled dreams, parables and family memories, in line with his view that people are "like packages of stories" just waiting to be unwrapped.

Nice Eyes contains enough humour and observation to hold our attention for most of its 30 minutes, but some editing would have helped maintain the momentum.

Hayward also wrote the second play, Chastity, which he performs with Tina Jack. In this quirky comic sketch, a beautiful woman (Doris) meets a shy man (Rock) at a wedding reception and amuses herself with him.

Jack's Doris is a flirt and a cynic with an impressive vocabulary and a taste for perversions, but her witticisms and innuendos go way over poor Rock's head.

Hayward is convincing as a man out of his depth, struggling to maintain his dignity - though he gets his revenge in an unexpected twist. Chastity yields plenty of punning humour.

The third piece, Tina Jack's Holding My Breath, almost seemed an extension of the second.

The same two actors (Jack and Hayward) are featured and the sense of tension in a male-female relationship is common to both.

In Jack's story, a wife walks in the door and straight into an argument. Feeling suffocated by her life, she's taken to walking alone, at night, and her husband is both worried and resentful.

Holding My Breath is a realistic and depressing piece about the difficulties of communication in modern relationships. As each character speaks, we sense some reconciliation might be possible if only the pair could listen for a moment without judging or cutting the other down.

The finale, Darren Day's Fudge, is a dramatic character sketch about a ditzy teenager (Liz Sideris) who seems to have been born without any capacity for embarrassment.

She's on board a train, munching noisily on lollies and chatting up a quiet young man who just wants to be left alone. But is the girl interested in him or in his big bag of fudge?

Notions of manipulation and the unease that oddball characters can bring to the more conventional among us are raised in this piece and Day's scenes have us alternately cringing and chuckling.

The Collective Unconscious is to be admired for the effort it has put into creating and presenting this entertaining quartet of original plays.