Adelaide Fringe Festival: Rough for Theatre II

As part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival, Go Begging in association with Urban Theatre of Youth are presenting the South Australian premiere of Samuel Beckett’s Rough for the Theatre II.
Adelaide Fringe Festival: Rough for Theatre II
As part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival, Go Begging in association with Urban Theatre of Youth are presenting the South Australian premiere of Samuel Beckett’s Rough for the Theatre II in The Studio at the Holden Street Theatre complex. Directed by Sarah Dunn, this intriguing but ultimately unsatisfying performance stars Kym Begg, Guy O’Grady and Jon Ho. The Holden Street Theatre complex is conveniently located close to the city in the suburb of Hindmarsh and boasts several different performance spaces. The bar occupies one of these spaces (sometimes used for cabaret shows) and boasts well-priced drinks and plenty of decent wines by the glass, all of which are permitted to be consumed in The Studio, a small, flexible space seating up to 150 patrons. If you’re quick you can switch your complimentary cushion for the fluffier one off the seat beside you, but honestly the seating isn’t that bad. This show is only 35 minutes though, so perhaps they are for the comfort of audiences attending shows of longer duration. The Studio is an intimate, minimalist venue that invites the audience to empathise with the cast, particularly in front of a tough crowd (this was, indeed, theatre in the rough). The set is striking, a large framed window in the centre dwarfing the anonymous bureaucrats’ desks, which mirror each other exactly on opposing sides of the stage, each topped with a de rigeur lime green 70s desk lamp. There’s not much to work with but it’s used well as oddly coincidental electrical glitches unsettle the nerves of the bureaucrats, or, if you will, suited and bespectacled angels of mercy (or doom). As the audience enters, one of the performers is standing in front of the window, ostensibly preparing to jump. He remains there throughout the show as the world-weary pencil pushers bicker over whether he should or should not jump. Samuel Beckett is a well respected name in theatre, but even maestros have their flops and frankly Rough for the Theatre II just isn’t all that interesting. In fact I was getting a little drowsy (the cushion helped) despite the vigorous lead performances. Luckily (although not, I daresay, for the performers), someone in the front row was enjoying the show and the relaxed drinks policy more than I was. Much, much more. I wouldn’t describe Rough as a comedy, exactly, although it does have some mildly amusing moments, but at one point nearly half the audience were shaking with laughter at the front row antics, and I couldn’t help feeling for the performers as they could not have been more than four feet away. It must have been extremely distracting and frustrating and one can only admire their stamina and chutzpah as they ploughed through sheafs of bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo (I’m talking about the script not the props) in search of some kind of meaning in an apparently empty, pointless, pitiful existence. So did they arrive at a conclusion? To be honest I couldn’t tell you, but some kind of light seemed to have penetrated the grey haze of the bureaucrats’ own dreary existences as they discovered that life can’t always be reduced to facts on a page, and maybe that’s what this show was all about. See it if you’re a diehard Beckett fan or have an hour to kill but don’t expect meaty philosophising or any light to be shed on the meaning of life. Rough for Theatre II Until 22 March Tickets $15 full price and $10 concession

Liz Black

Wednesday 18 March, 2009

About the author

Liz Black is a freelance writer currently living in Adelaide. She writes food, fiction, farce and, very occasionally, fact. When it comes to Fringe shows, she likes Flavour You Can See and air-conditioning.