Ride and Fourplay, two Darlinghurst Theatre productions at the Eternity Playhouse until October 4, both come from the wonderful mind of Jane Bodie, a celebrated Australian playwright known for plays that explore connections and modern relationships.
First shown in 2001, Ride tells the story of two strangers waking in bed together, naked and hungover, without recollection of how they got there and whether they’ve had sex.
The beginning is light-hearted, with the set up feeling much like a typical romantic comedy. However, the mention of such Sydney suburbs as Tempe and Marrickville, as well as the banter between the two characters, removes any cheesiness and foster the sense of realism.
Tom O’Sullivan is brilliant as the laid back 20-something-year-old unflustered by the unknown woman in his house. His acting is a joy to watch and his energy keeps the play engaging.
His counterpart Emma Palmer is best known to Australian audiences for her work as the host of Playschool. It is fantastic to see she is able to transition to a more serious role.
The chemistry between the two actors adds to the feeling of intimacy; as an audience member you certainly feel like you’re peering into two strangers’ lives.
While the actors excelled under the able direction of Anthony Skuse, the set is imaginative: the production has recreated a small slab of Sydney’s Inner West complete with a record player, empty wine bottles and a stained Turkish rug.
Alistair Wallace’s sound design throughout the play is a notable strong point; the music of Lou Reed mixed with a Sydney thunderstorm provides an enjoyable counterpoint in this script-heavy play.
Ride’s resolution is neat, while avoiding the clichéd ‘happily ever after’ ending.
Fourplay is set in an unknown part of Sydney and explores the connections between four people and how their lives become entangled through love, sex and lies.
It is a very engaging play with interesting stage direction. The characters project their lines to the audience instead of facing one another, and when not delivering lines the characters freely roam the stage.
This work is much more challenging and direct; where Ride was playful and humorous, Fourplay is forceful and serious. This makes sense as the play explores themes of infidelity and falling out of love, as opposed to falling in love.
Tom O’Sullivan and Emma Palmer return to the stage to play lovers, roles they both perform exceedingly well. They are joined by Gabrielle Scawthorn and Aaron Glenane who offer an interesting contrast.
The dialogue between characters is intriguing and realistic, and showcase Bodie’s writing ability. All four actors bounce off each other well.
If you can forgive the somewhat self-indulgent run time of 90 minutes per play, Ride and Fourplay’s tender and funny moments make both plays well worth the watch.
Ride and Fourplay are at the Eternity Playhouse, Burton Street, Dalinghurst until October 4. Bookings www.darlinghursttheatre.com or 02 8356 9987 (9.30am-5.30pm weekdays).