A Girl in a Car with a Man by Rob Evans. Directed by Lenore McGregor at The Street Theatre Studio, April 21 - May 7, 2005, 7.30 pm.
This is an engrossing play which forces us to pay attention when we would rather constantly seek diversion. Its form exactly suits its theme, while the direction, the acting style, costumes, set, lighting, sound and the use of multiple video screens faithfully match the form.
Its impact is personal, rather like watching television, so its presentation in the Studio rather than on a larger stage was the right decision. This production will transfer to the Old Fitzroy Theatre in Sydney May 19 to June 11 and was first presented by the English Stage Company in the studio style Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court, London, in November 2004. Young Scottish writer, Rob Evans, began work on the play at the Interplay Young Writer's Festival in Townsville, 2003, and Lenore McGregor directed the first stage of its development at the Australian National Playwrights' Conference in February 2004.
These credentials mean you should not miss the chance to see A Girl in a Car with a Man. All five actors - Mary Rachel Brown (Paula), Peter Damien Hayes (David), John Leary (Policeman) and especially Henry Nixon (Alex) and Amanda Bishop (Stella) - create intense, surprising characters, each fascinating to watch in their own right. And their performance skills are equalled in the writing and directing.
The concept of the play could have become a disjointed confusion. All that holds the characters together is that they have all seen on television a security camera sequence of a young girl taking the hand of a man who takes her to a car and drives away. Paula and the Policeman meet near where this event took place. Stella and David meet accidentally in David's house in the north of the country. Alex tells us the story of a night at a gay club near Arthur's Seat. All fear for the girl in the car, and we, like them, must either divert our attention elsewhere or become obsessed with the horror of what may have happened to her.
The implication is that the more we seek personal security, the more we isolate ourselves, the less we trust each other and the more insecure we feel. This is the vicious circle of modern civilisation, displayed here with many a light touch to divert us, but with no easy resolution. The truth is not easy to bear.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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