Friday, February 20, 2015

Theatre: Moving On Inc. (★ ★ ★ ★)

Written and directed by Mikala Westall
Lighting and sound designer Joe Lui
Performed by Nicola Bartlett, Harriet Gordon-Anderson and Barnaby Pollock
Until February 21

The actor Mikala Westall impressed in her recent performances in Will O’Mahoney’s Great White and Joe Lui’s The Tribe. Now she has a play of her own, Moving On Inc., and has come up trumps first time.
Westall’s jumping off point is the little known profession of cleaning up the effects of the deceased. What interested her in particular is the idea of tidying up all those memories, allowing everything that people were to move on into their eternity.
Abby (Harriet Gordon-Anderson) and her boyfriend Sam (Barnaby Pollock) are taking her late dad’s effects into the bush to burn them. There’s something – or someone – on the road, and Sam can’t get the car started again after he swerves to avoid a collision.
An older woman, Ruth (Nicola Bartlett) appears, and seems to be more interested in what the couple are planning, and know more about the effects they plan to do it to, than makes for a relaxing evening.

There are macabre twists to come, and each is beautifully built towards; I twice found myself muttering: “Of course. Yes!” seconds before the reveal – perfect.
Pollock is good in support of two wonderful performances: Bartlett brings an unnerving presence to Ruth, and Gordon-Anderson is nimble, natural and utterly convincing as Abby. I’ve always regretted the Perth theatre losing the luminous Whitney Richards to Sydney; gaining Gordon-Anderson, who has come the other way to study at WAAPA, and is very like Richards, is a good swap.
My only criticism is an unusual one for a Fringe show – it’s not quite long enough. A few minutes playing around with the idea of the Moving On business would be entertaining, especially if written as well as the rest of this impressive debut.

An edited version of this review appeared in The West Australian 19.2.15

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