‘Stuck!’ is a new one-act, Australian play that introduces the immense writing skills of teacher Andrew O’Connell, a WA playwright with a strong future. This production is by ‘Company O’, an adventurous, quality theatre group formed in 2012. These World Premiere performances can be seen at ‘Paper Mountain’, a Perth based artist run initiative founded in late 2011. They have a gallery with a wide selection of contemporary art, upstairs at 267 William Street, Northbridge. The 75-minute performances are on each evening at 7.30 pm on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings until Saturday 10th March. Please note that on Friday 9th March, the curtain-up is at the later time of 8.30 pm.
The Set; was designed by Laura Heffernan. It comprises a trestle table, four breakfast bar stools, and a selection of personal items on the table surface. The Scenes; are a TAFE (?) staff room, a home, and a public bar.
A young teacher, Tim (Callum Yardley) is going around the staff room, flirtatiously complimenting the ladies on the staff. Some find Tim slightly inappropriate, others just smile. He finds the beautiful Colombian lecturer, Violeta (Tatiana Dunn) especially attractive, but discovers that she may be leaving the staff soon.
Tim is given a dressing down by Anne (Maggie Meyer) a more serious and conscientious staff member for his lewd comments. Not wishing to be accused of spoilers, I will quote the author: ‘About three people yearning for, but fearing, fulfilment. This is the story of someone who wants to get on with their life but can’t, and two people who can get on with their lives but won’t.’
Costume designer, Laura Heffernan had to supply smart everyday wear, and a few ‘casual’ outfits. Regular readers of my reviews will know my feelings about writers who direct their own plays. 90% of the time the combination fails. In the guise of being the director it is so easy to assume that the actors understand what you mean, when in reality you are reading between the lines and filling in the acting inadequacies in your mind, the result being a ‘thin’ delivery and performance. However, Director Andrew O’Connell is an exception. He has written three solid characters, instantly recognisable. He has then given each a tremendous depth of personality, with dozens of little nuances. Andrew has chosen an exceptional cast with a very natural delivery. He has made each cast member perform from elation to the depths of depression. Then there was a soft lovey-dovey atmosphere that changed in a blink of an eye to ruthless hardheartedness. The acting is amazing. The play started with an insipid, almost meaningless atmosphere, but within seconds the dialogue became crisp, intense and evocative, as the characters’ insecurities and lack of self-worth comes to the front. It is unusual to find a small production group with such quality. The story, dialogue and acting were all extraordinary. Congratulations to Company ‘O’ – a name with a future.