Hope springs eternal in funny dreamland

DAVID ZAMPATTI
Picture: Mitchell Richards

The subtitle of Shane Adamczak's tender romantic comedy Trampoline says it all: What happens when a dreamer meets the girl of his dreams?

Matt (Adamczak) is a young man with a problem - he dreams too much. His therapist, Dr Vangillies, explains that he spends 85 per cent of his slumber in REM sleep, the time of dreams. It dominates his nights, and waking dreams wreck his days.

A girl - with trampoline - moves in across the street. Kelly (Amanda Woodhams, who also plays Vangillies) is also troubled, but the reasons for her distress are much more obvious. She's lost her mother to cancer and her father's grief has turned to violent anger.

It's not unusual to have sympathy for a play's characters but Adamczak makes us really feel these damaged kids are entitled to a happy ending. The question is whether he has both the courage and skill to give them one without mawkishness or artificiality.

The answer is resounding.

Adamczak and director Damon Lockwood both cut some of their teeth in improv and comedy (Adamczak will have to forgive me for noting his likeness to Woody Allen and Stephen Merchant), and the icing on the cake of Trampoline is its humour. Neither writer nor director shy away from laying it on thick at times - much aided by the cast's third member, Ben Russell, who brings bucketloads of it to a series of cameo roles - and they are equally at home with small gestures and comic touch. One example, a running gag of Adamczak closing the door in Russell's face, is a tiny masterpiece of timing and inflection that gets funnier every time he does it.

Woodhams is a first-rate dramatic actor and she gives Kelly a sweet idiosyncrasy and depth that are unerringly right for the character and the play.

There are fine balances to strike here: keeping the pace tight but giving Matt and Kelly time to fall in love; letting the audience travel with the story while preserving the ambiguity of Matt's scrambled conscious and subconscious lives.

Lockwood, abetted by his stage manager, Louise Wardle, accomplishes both with easy skill.

In the end, Kelly cures Matt as he frees her. But Adamczak sows a last seed of doubt when, in the play's final line, Kelly tells Matt: "I'm your dream come true, baby."

And maybe she is. Or maybe a dream is all she is.