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Friday, 31 August 2007

Lion Pig Lion ; theatre review

STRIKING A DEAL:Brant Eustice and Michaela Cantwell in a scene from Lion Pig Lion. Photo: Shane Reid.

State Theatre Company of South Australia presents a world premiere of Marty Denniss' latest play Lion Pig Lion, which explores issues of government, corporate and individual accountability and how each interact with one another when staff discover their company may be involved with a young man's death at a water plant.

Bland Bureaucratic Bungles by Linh

Marty Denniss' Lion Pig Lion is inspired by the Bolivian Water Wars of 2000 and tells of the confusion, fear and distrust of individuals whose company is being investigated in relation to a murder.

The plot is convoluted and the dialogue has the potential to be sharp and witty if it wasn't burdened with expletives - the word f*** dominated throughout. The characters are as complex as the plot and the actors' talents seem wasted in a play that is slow-moving and stagnant in parts.

Although frustrating at times, the performances were strong and engaging enough to sustain audience interest until some answers are revealed, yet more questions arise.

Local performer Michaela Cantwell gives a commanding performance as the irrepressible, fast-talking PR guru, Virginia, whose own motives are questioned as she tries to keep everyone calm as the company undergoes another review by the Commissioner.

Stage director, drama teacher and singer/songwriter Brant Eustice is convincing as the wheelchair-bound Archives Manager, Sidney whose first impressions are not as they seem. There's a surprise and shock instore as Sidney reveals more about himself and his involvement with the investigations at the end.

Versatile thespian Carmel Johnson plays the tough-talking security officer Maureen, whose involvement with the murder is not what it seems. Carmel gives the character some light and shade, displaying a hardened exterior to many while showing vulnerability towards a few.

Other cast members' performances which added variety to help lift the play, include Patrick Frost as the soon-to-retire security guard Freddy, Patrick Graham's affable and impressionable Archives Assistant, Richard and Joel McIlroy as the nosey and manipulative Commission officer, Gerard.

Overall, Lion Pig Lion had a plot that takes too long to get started, characters who talk too much about nothing with too many expletives, and an ending which dissatisfies.

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