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Ninety

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Ninety
on Sunday 09 August 2009
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ninety MTC, QTCNinety minutes is a short time, especially when it’s all you have to try and rekindle the romantic flame with your estranged partner.

Isabel and William’s past is a turbulent one and during the one and a half rotations of the round stage, they re-live the happiness and hardships of their relationship.

The hitch is, William is set to marry his young fiancé in a few days, and has come only to satisfy Isabel’s request for a last chance to revive the passionate marriage they once shared. William is emotionally removed from their past together and strongly rebuts Isabel’s many reasons why they should be together.

This dramatic comedy is a frightening reality about life and love, but may seem more real to some depending on their generation.

There were moments of intense laughter as William, played by Kim Gyngell, ran his flawless fast-paced monologue about looking after a newborn for the first time on his own. Then there were the more sombre memories when Isabel, played by Rachel Gordon, reflected on the sadder times of loss and relationship struggles. It was an eye-opening and raw experience, but at times called for a more dramatic story line. Both actors were intense and brilliant in the ever-changing highs and lows within the short space of time, but some parts of the story were flat. The script sometimes delved into re-enactments of past events with more details regarding where and what rather than the more interesting why and how. However, this doesn’t draw away from the reality, and rather makes it more believable and possible to relate to. It was a fine line between wanting more entertainment and accepting it was an accurate depiction of real life.

Isabel, a cultured painting restorer, showed desperation from the beginning, and displayed her open heart with honesty but also a hint of manipulation as she used memories of better times in her attempts to convince William to be with her. Her anger and jealousy towards his fiancé was misguided and naïve. Gordon portrayed these desperate and bitter emotions boldly and from a place of understanding.

William is now a golden-globe winning actor, with the fame and fortune going straight to his head. Never having dealt with the hard times in his past, he had covered his emotion with his celebrity status and all the attention that comes with it. Gyngell effectively performed William’s arrogance while allowing him to gradually reveal that he is deeper than what he first appears. It was interesting to watch as Gyngell unfolded the many layers of his character.

Throughout the night we patiently awaited the final outcome of the ninety minutes, wondering where Isabel’s fight for love was leading them; closer together or further apart.

The show runs in real time, with flashbacks portrayed to their relationship as husband and wife. Time ticks away before our eyes as the rotating set designed by Andrew Bellchambers takes us full circle within the first hour, and then another 180 degrees as walls between Isabel and William really start to break down. So subtle was the rotation it was not until 15 minutes had passed that I noticed everything had moved.
Lighting by Nick Schlieper stylishly took us from present to past with subtle atmospheric changes with yellows to blues that managed to depict the feel of the relationship on show at the time between the characters.

Ninety may leave you feeling like you’ve watched your own life flash before your eyes, or even stir some disagreement within yourself about male and female stereotyping. The question might also arise about who has relationships like this one, is it the majority, and are you one of them?

Until September 5. .

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Kellie Scott is a guest writer for AussieTheatre.com