The characters presented by Cortese are real people; in other works, he has written about down and outs in St Kilda, and people in factories and offices.
Here, in Hotel, we begin with a couple of cleaners – two women talking about colleagues, paranoia, racism, safety on the job, and an informer in the workplace. Their 30 minutes of personal and work politics ends in a moment of conflict and intimidation.
In the second play, Fortune, a pensioner living rent-free in the house of his deceased girlfriend is confronted unexpectedly by the woman’s prodigal son and his demands for respect – among other things such as rent and home maintenance.
In the third piece, Night, two girls strike up an acquaintance on a drinking night. They have hilariously different agendas and work only towards another conflicted outcome.
The random nature of life is a thread running through all these scenarios. No-one is settled; unexpected demands are made on characters in each play.
Some reactions run high, some are kept within.
“Strictly speaking, you got no right to be here at all,” says young Vince (Mark Healy) to Terry (Michael Eustice), ripping away what life security Terry may have had for the last 10 years.
“Reality … a jumbled up rubbish dump,” says the drink-rager and would-be lesbian Rachel (Anna Bampton) to her confused and uber-drunk prey, Rachel (Cheryl Douglas).
“Stick your neck out for nobody. They’ll chop it right off,” says Tara, the older cleaner (Sue Wylie), stealing from her employer with the help of her boyfriend (who she describes as “a root between roots”). Her workmate Jane (Tamara Bennetts) isn’t going to be drawn into Tara’s risky plans.
The scripts for all these three playlets are neatly structured towards their end point – brilliant. They all have something to say that is worth hearing.
All the actors are perfectly believable. Director Geoff Brittain has them using subtle facial expressions, seen to the audience but not to the other player, to give depth to the characterisation.
There is an effective switch of setting for the final play away from the stage to the back of the bar – right among the audience, really. I was afraid that when one of the girls started dancing she was going to fall in my lap. Now that’s audience engagement!
And even the planes passing overhead at The Wheatie were used as props. These plays and their presentation were so interesting I’d consider going again.
Beer Theatre is being presented at the Wheatsheaf Hotel again on November 11, 17 and 19.
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