|Photo by Simon Cardwell|
Nicholas Hope is the writer of a new Australian play, FIVE PROPERTIES OF CHAINMALE. He writes in the program notes:
(It) began with my intention to write a series of thematically connected stories that deal with the concept of male narcissistic personality disorder as a socially applauded ideology.What we experience, in the SBW Theatre, is a man with two male acolytes who support and transform, to facilitate a MALE through five transitions as a kind of explanation, or apologia, for the misdemeanours and typical behavioural responses of the masculine psyche in 'historically' recognisable situations. In form the play feels like an animated short story, pushing/pulling us along with a little want to explore some philosophical sophistication. The meat of the writerly form is fleshed by the actors in prosy descriptions of things and events, with occasional inter-actional dialogue interludes. If this were a published short story I probably would not have got very far into the reading. It did not draw one's attention too deeply, or for long, for the play's revelations were not new, or necessarily enlightening. The best, dramatically, of the episodes examined, was the next to last, concerning the son of the MALE and alcohol and confrontation with historical 'rape' possibilities - it developed some theatrical tension, at least.
Says, Mr Hope in his current log-line for the play:
There are times when the bizarre comedy of self-justified, self-centred, often cowardly but sometimes brazen small acts of evil and complicity accrue to a level that demands some kind of audit, and a little self-ironic humour.An arresting log-line promising much. The promise is not kept. Perhaps, having a Director other than the writer might have helped in the rehearsal room? Another 'eye'. Another dramaturgical hand.
Briony Williams, as the only representative of the opposite sex, in this play, does by far and away the most interesting work in this production. Jeremy Waters keeps his head just above 'water' to keep his resume afloat, while, unfortunately, on Opening night, neither Alan Lovell or Dominic McDonald gave flawless performances to help give real clarity to the writing, or the staging.
Chain mail - defined in my oxford dictionary: n. historical armour made of small metal rings linked together. chainmale then is a lovely word-play joke by Mr Hope, and promised some potential cogency of the writer's ambition, but now seems, possibly, the best of the writing to be had.