Saturday 6 October 2018

Just A Boy, Standing In Front Of A Girl review

M is just a boy, standing in front of a girl, asking her to love him. How sweet and cute. Except in Jane Miller's Just A Boy, Standing In Front Of A Girl this is anything but, as our protagonists find themselves slipping into a life that is darker and more desperate as their relationship progresses. Presented by 15 Minutes From Anywhere, this production continues in the same style as their 2014 show Motherfucker, in adapting classical texts into a contemporary setting.

Keith Brockett delivers another wining performance that's always so committed to the character with the perfect amount of enthusiasm as J. He is paired well with Annie Lumsden who plays M, with both actors displaying the tragedy and the comedy of the circumstances their characters find themselves in. The supporting cast of John Marc Desengano, Andrea McCannon and Glenn van Oosterom produce some wonderful work with the various characters that they portray.

While the performances area great to watch, it is the writing that is difficult to get behind in this production. For the most part, Miller finds balance between the tragicomic slightly surreal world presented and reality. But in an effort to expose the brutality of the patriarchy in which we live in, there seems to have been neglect for purpose and reason within the script. The amount of times that M is called ugly and the fat-shaming she endures seem to be there just to rile the audience and get on side with how the patriarchy views and treats women. There are scenes that are engineered to be purely functional, such as when M, J and J's business partner are hitting the golf course.

Even with the foundations of Just A Boy, Standing In Front Of A Girl coming from a well-known classical work, the twist in the story comes so out of left field that you can't help but feel a little cheated as an audience member. Sure it should be unexpected, but a twist should be plausible and nothing we see up until that point - in story or character - even remotely hints at what is about to transpire.

The set and costume design by Emily Collett, particularity the simple yet creative way the stage is constructed and utilised - along with Beng Oh's direction during the set changes - reinforces the emotions of its characters and the tone of the narrative. Even with a restricted space and having the actors perform in a narrow traverse, Oh uses the aesthetic minimalism to allow the actors to vividly create this world through their words, facial expressions and actions. 

Just A Boy, Standing In Front Of A Girl raises some points about the patriarchy and how it impacts on all our lives, but in order to make the story it presents work successfully, more work on the characters and their motivations and thoughts need to be examined in further detail.

Show Information

Venue: La Mama Theatre, 349 Drummond St, Carlton 
Season: Until 14 October | Wed 6.30pm, Thurs - Sat 7:30pm, Sun 4:00pm

Tickets: $30 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: La Mama Theatre

Image Credit: Stephania Pountney

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