The Standover Man
By Jessica Messenger
Subiaco Arts Centre Studio
Review: Robin Pascoe
By the time this review is read, the short season of The Standover Man will be finished. Part of the Perth Theatre Trust's Independent Theatre Festival, a revival of six productions already staged professionally, the season aims to find new audiences for successful productions that could have been overlooked in their original runs.
The first two productions have seen revivals of The Guys (with PAWA Award winning actor Adam T Perkins) and Dancers Speak Volumes.
The Standover Man has been revised and restaged from a Fringe production. In the warm and intimate studio setting, writer and director Jessica Messenger presents a complex film noir-ish tale of a seedy gangland in which several threads weave together. A teenage thug, who has secrets to reveal about truthfulness and identity, is in trouble and on the run; a psychopath contract killer falls in love; a rose-loving, gently spoken enforcer hears voices from Joan of Arc, but also protects the kid in trouble. Add to this a flashback to a gruesome scene from someone's childhood.
At first these disparate threads are a confusing jangle but they do resolve with satisfying neatness. This was a script that required audience members to be patient and stay on board for the whole ride.
The simple set with broken wooden struts had touches of invention - a bed that with lights became a car and torches pick out faces in the dark. As is so often the case, less is more.
The performances from Laura Hopwood, Esther Longhurst, Nick Maclaine, Theo Messenger and Mario Piccoli are mostly satisfying and complete.
However, the physicality of the fight scenes in the close quarters of the Studio needed to find a more theatrically stylised language rather than hover on the edge of realism. The revelations are handled with conviction and the performances broadly effective. The doubling of roles was managed but a larger cast would have helped.
The remaining productions in this Festival also have had successful former lives but deserve to find new audiences. Hopefully, this innovation will continue to be supported and more productions will have second lives.
The festival continues with Trampoline, The Little Mermaid and Crash Course. Details: subiacoartscentre.com.au