Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Neighbourhood Watch @Belvoir Theatre


On Tuesday night I was lucky enough to get tickets to see a preview of Neighbourhood Watch at the Belvoir Theatre. Getting the invite only a couple of hours before the show I didn't know what to expect. However, when one of the opening lines was about Kevin '07 I immediately knew I was in for a contemporary Australian play that the Belvoir seems to excel at.

Neighbourhood Watch focuses on two neighbours. Ana, a Hungarian immigrant who lived through WWII and Catherine a troubled dreamer in her early twenties. Ana and Catherine form an unlikely friendship. The play explores the friendship that develops, what they learn from each other and the history of the characters (particularly Ana). 

I really enjoyed the play. There was a surprising amount of humour and I was regularly laughing out loud with the rest of the audience. There were lots of touching moments between the characters too. I didn't think there was a particular purpose to the story, revelation or message the playwright was trying to get across. However, the play didn't feel like it was suffering from a lack of direction as a result.

The musical score was excellent and, as usual, the stage was unconventional but definitely worked. The stage was carpeted with the carpet extending up the walls. In the middle of the stage was a rotating circle that was used to great effect to convey character separation and travelling through time.

The only negative was when an hour into the play the director stopped the performance to have a light fixed. I thought it was a bit odd, but was done with very good humour and we were at a preview after all. No one in the audience seemed to mind. However, five minutes later he did the same thing again and we were all getting restless. In a real performance wouldn't you just wait for the interval to fix the light? However, once the light was fixed I did understand the directors perspective. The light in question was used to cast shadows and combined with the turn table created a sculptural element.

I'd definitely recommend you go and watch if you enjoy the theatre.

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