He’s Seeing Other People Now is a great example of the magic that happens when a creative team get all the elements right.
Anna McGahan’s multi-dimensional story has extremely strong dialogue that provides for lots of witty little quips along the way (that darn know-it-all farmer!).
Actor Norman Doyle thrives on these quips with his wonderfully expressive forehead and both he and his co-star, the lovely Katy Curtain, produce grounded, believable, entertaining and dynamic performances from start to finish.
The pair play out the story of Archie and Fay who connect in a world that had long ago lost connection – the isolation of today’s social media dwellers resonates as a beginning to these ends. It is a night when Brisbane will burn and the fabric of an over cautious society will fall apart.
I was slightly confused as Archie and Fay swing between ‘possible?’ relationships, unsure if these characters were playing out different relationships in their existing world, or playing out potential relationships in concurrent worlds. This slight confusion does not detract from the enjoyment of the story and in retrospect it seems more of an exploration of the way different people live with-in a time, rather than a linear story about the true Archie and Fay.
We meet the couple who are dangerously involved in the revolution and their own propaganda, the couple who are just living through it, a father and daughter; her naive and him knowing that this too will pass.
Melanie Wild, listed as an emerging Director, has obviously has soaked up the best of her experience in the Brisbane theatre scene. Although McGahan has written a very strong script, I dare say a weaker director could lead it all awry or worse, produce an average production. Wild has resisted any temptations to over-do effects and futurisms and I worship her for this, having seen so many examples in recent times of creative people mad on lighting effects and animations. A simple but brilliantly designed screen that projects stunning imagery (by projection design team, Optikal Bloc) through-out the play and two black boxes is all the set needs. It is visually interesting and adds to the actors’ performances rather than over-running them.
This is a wonderful example of how cutting edge technology should be invisible to the eyes of the audience. The projected images are of familiar (yet changed) scenes that Brisbane residents will connect with. It certainly adds that extra buy-in when you are witnessing a scene play out at your own train station.
That is why this story is so engaging, it’s far enough in the future for there to be some drastic changes but close enough to now, that those changes are somehow an eerie expectation. With the recent election results in Queensland causing concern and anxiety for many residents, He’s Seeing Other People Now is particularly timely.
Wild also does a beautiful job of manipulating the audience. At times, the house lights go up and your inner voice whispers “oh god they’re going to use the audience”, but they don’t. It was just to keep you on edge, to keep you surrounded. Here, I would really like to say something about the ending but you will have to see that for yourself. I’ll leave it at this; it is a very unique way to clear a theatre.
Playing at the Metro until July 21, He’s Seeing Other People Now is not to be missed; a stellar second last play in the Metro Arts, Independents series and a triumph for the cast and crew.