‘LEMON’ is a brand-new play written by Gita Bezard, a young Perth treasure who is a playwright, devisor, director and performer. Written especially for the Curtin Theatre Students to stretch both their acting and technical skills. This creates a theatre maker’s toolkit that also explores devising, dramaturgy, directing, movement, voice and technical theatre. In 2016 Gita had her playwriting debut at Black Swan State Theatre Company with ‘Girl Shut Your Mouth’ which was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. Her other much sought-after awards are numerous.
The 70-minute show is presented by Theatre Arts at Curtin’s Hayman Theatre’s STAGE ONE, which is now in its eighth year. Running since 1973, the Curtin Theatre major is the longest running tertiary course in WA. This production is managed by Stephen Carr and presented each evening at 7.00 until 7th December in the Blue Room Theatre Studio, 53 James Street in Northbridge.
The Scene: ‘Lemon’, a city café specialising in freshly cooked cakes and a friendly atmosphere.
The Set: is impressive. Designer Rhiannon Walker has produced a most realistic café complete with a working professional coffee machine, a seating booth, four melamine tables and stools. The sliding curtain would have been a tricky part of the set to erect, but it looked great.
The properties are exceptional, thanks to Kiri Siva and Alex Cload. The counter was well stocked with cakes and scones all stored under glass domes or on multitiered cake stands. There was a large wrought iron unit at the side stocked with crockery and cutlery. With the greenery and suspended menu board the scene was truly one of a working café.
Lighting Designer Chris Donnelly had a soft even lighting on the café, but when the storyline called for a cabaret scene or a specific table to be picked out, Chris was on the ball.
Sound Designer Alex Comstock had some good effects but had a small problem when a cast member moved the cabaret microphone around, pointing it upwards towards the speakers caused a couple of feedback howl-arounds, however, Alex rapidly achieved a sound level that worked. Quick thinking.
Stage Manager Sarah Connolly and her Deputy Stage Manager Ella Randle worked well, and the show ran smoothly.
Café owner, River (Imogen Rabbitte) is smiling and euphorically trying to make today PERFECT, after all it is her beloved café’s last day. Due to lack of support she is having to close. For regular client, Annie (Elizabeth Offer), the loss of a café is minor concern when the whole world is dying around us; so, Annie is trying to set up a friends of the planet group. When handsome Joseph (Matthew Arnold) applies to join, could he be the driving force Annie has been looking for?
After a month of unemployment, Daniel (Sam Ireland) arrives to start work, will River or her miserable faced barista, Ari (Chelsea Gibson) have the courage to tell Daniel the job no longer exists? Denim (Malek Domkoc) is the café’s advertising agent, which he tackles with a different approach. At one table is Storm (Nadiya Shakeer) a quiet girl with a specific request.
The lights dim and the cabaret act begins; he is an American called Armageddon (Travis Koch) with a strange routine. In the corner, a couple who have just met are chatting; Ajax (T Mutta Beilby) is besotted by Daisy (Gabriella Munro) who is not only a Greenie but also a Lumbricus expert – a perfect romantic match.
The award-winning Director is Adam Mitchell, himself a graduate of Theatre Arts at Curtin, is known for his innovative modern-day productions. Adam is also an Associate and Resident Director for Black Swan State Theatre Company with many impressive productions to his name. With the help of his assistant director Kyra Belford-Thomas, the director has taken this cleverly written piece to the edge of absurdity without crossing the line, keeping the audience in doubt as to what will happen next.
I have seen most of these actors many times and they all performed here at their best.
Costume Designer Amber Anderson was aided in the construction and shaping of the garments by Shelby McKenzie and her assistant Miki Nikrani. The costume team have created a smart corporate uniform for the boss and a more casual T-shirt for the helpers. Then there were the bizarre advertising costumes! Brought to life by Malek.
The very funny story was designed as a challenge for the Curtin students performing outside the cocoon safety of their own theatre. This team worked fabulously together, plenty of rapport as the very different characters slowly disclosed their true traits. Gita’s script had quite few deliberate tests and traps for the cast, but they manage to spot the ‘potholes’ and worked their way around the circumstances.
Real and believable characters in a weird but plausible situation. Very well done.