Monday, May 5, 2008
At The Old Fitzroy Theatre in a local pub, a Coop production of a one man show called THE PACKER written by Dianna Fuemana. This work has a long performance history and the actor JAY RYAN has been associated with it since its workshopping in New Zealand in 2003. He has performed it in New Zealand, The Edinburgh Festival and recently in Melbourne. This is clear in the performing. Jay Ryan impersonates 8 different characters over the course of the work (approximately 60 minutes with a 20 minute interval). There is a deft physical skill and embedded ownership in the impersonations-each character having strong "iconic" gestures to help us identify them as he switches from one to the other. He plays both sexes and all ages and some ethnic diversities. The vocal work is characterised well (although there seemed to be some strain). This is a Bravura performance of honed skills. The joy is in watching this young actor enjoying performing. It is contagious.
However the writing is not very insightful. All the characters are superficial observations and in clichéd activities. The Director of this production (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor) has attempted to give the characters something more than skin deep projections but the writing does not allow for much opportunity. So, in directed silent moments or in extra long transfers from one character to another the director tries to give the audience and actor more time to endow the life forces with something more than a stand up comedy dimension. When one compares the other one person piece on in Sydney at the moment: Robyn Nevin's work in THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING, the depth of JOAN Didion's text and the characterisation of the actress leaves a much more satisfying experience.