Triple Word Score [by Sharu Delilkan]
The concept of the alternate ending has always worked a treat.
Many movies, especially the infamous Sliding Doors, not only had an alternate ending but an alternate history as well.
It’s therefore not surprising that The Outfit Theatre Company’s latest romp Love After Dark is a winning combination right from the get-go – three directors, three plays and three writers. That’s nine points of view in one show – what more can you ask for?
Walking into the grungy upstairs space of The Basement Studio seems rather ordinary until we get to the doorway where it is unclear where the set ends and the audience’s seating begins. The cast and set surrounding the door with lively chatter add to the eager anticipation of opening night.
As I get settled in my seat, I can’t help but think ‘If only we could rewrite the ending to what life dishes out at us – wouldn’t the world be a happier place?”
The thrust of each play is the same – it’s 1 am in an urban Auckland flat with five characters. Each play starts with a miserable, depressed git on a sofa but all the offerings manifest in very different ways and can simply be classified as ‘hope’, ‘darkness’ and ‘hilarity’.
The skillful way Love After Dark brings together 21 members of the ensemble is something that definitely should be commended. As mentioned in the programme, this new annual development initiative from The Outfit Theatre Company known as The Factory Floor gives their Resident Ensemble performers the opportunity to expand their skills by trying their hand at roles such as writer or director.
Overall the character development is well done although a little more starkly different characters might have helped the audience while going through three sets of same-same-but-different cast members.
I liked the fact that not only did all three plays have different endings but they managed to have very different tones, allowing the audience to go through the gambit of emotions throughout the evening.
Special mention should be given to the simple yet elegant lighting – a real credit to the uncredited.
The three plots weave and merge between the characters and cleverly exhibit how the same language can have completely different meaning depending on delivery, characters and content.
The traditional Outfit onsite scene changes were in evidence and kept the show moving, whilst starkly different music or absence thereof, set the three separate moods.
The three plots worked well together although I must admit I found the first half of the first two plays a bit too similar, despite the fact that the ultimate premise resulted in very different outcomes.
The writing of all three pieces is crisp and works well, which adds momentum to the plot and intrigue.
The last play has a deliciously unexpected twist that is bound to delight any regular theatregoer or practitioner. It rounded off the evening with some crowd-pleasing hilarity – which included the fairly tenuous connection to the play’s title that was well engineered and suitably mocked.
The added bonus of being part of the inaugural Basement Fest gave audience members the unique opportunity to mingle with those coming and going in for other shows taking place in both the upstairs and downstairs venues throughout the evening – a great combination of different groups heading off to enjoy a new experience and others re-living the live theatre they had just seen.
The Outfit Ensemble has made something that could easily have seemed contrived into a clever, fun piece of theatre that people should definitely see to believe.
Love After Dark is presented by The Outfit Theatre Company and plays as part of the Basement Fest until 15 October 2011. More information at The Basement.