Variations or Exit Music takes a deep look at one person's three great loves and their struggle to see through the heartbreak and believe in the possibility of finding love again. Written and directed by Justin Nott, it is a personal response to his past relationships and the depression that these breaks ups brought on.
Despite its personal nature, Nott's script easily connects with his audience. The conversations, the thoughts and the dreams that are portrayed on stage, are the exact same ones we've all had - regardless of sexuality. It is intense and reflective with moments of light humour. At times, he runs the risk of mashing together a number of complex ideas with long scenes but this is balanced out with shorter, simpler exchanges, like when Justin and his partner Sam share everything they have done for each other.
Lachlan Martin, Yuchen Wang and Joss McClelland represent each of Justin's three big loves, and while on paper they hover around similar emotions and dispositions, the actors bring individual energy and character perspective to their roles, and allow each relationship to feel very different.
The performance takes place in a lifeless and cold "shoebox" apartment. Eloise Kent's structure highlights the domestic nature of the environment without distracting us so we are able to concentrate on the dialogue. As the play progresses the space becomes more symbolic of Justin being trapped by his thoughts and past, and feels like the stage is becoming even more intimate and claustrophobic. And then the opposite happens with a stunning reveal about just how much bigger our world is.
Variations or Exit Music is a touching play about love through various considerations: the loss of, the yearning of and the fear of. While predominantly dealing with the ending of relationships, the audience gets to walk away with the hope that we can love and will be loved. They also walk away from a captivating night at the theatre.
Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton
Season: until 25 September, Wed 6:30pm, Thurs - Sat 7:30pm, Sun 4pm
Duration: 90 minutes
Tickets: $30 Full | $20 Concession
Bookings: La MamaTheatre
Image Credit: Darren Gill