Playing at the Old Fitz thanks to Tamarama Rock Surfers, a mainstay in Sydney’s independent theatre scene known as a company for pushing the envelope, All the Rage features a cracking script by John A.D. Fraser, a dynamic group of actors, and a blessedly minimal stage design that keeps the focus exactly where it needs to be: on the actors and on the words.
It’s a great set-up: give a criminal mastermind a criminally stupid guy-for-hire and get him to help a retired terrorist set off a bomb underneath the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. (Current!) Throw in an unexpected observer and you have something that devolves into a really complicated hostage situation, because after a while you’re not even sure who, exactly, is the true hostage. (What you will be sure of, thanks to one of the funnier arguments on stages in Sydney this year, is the lyrics to the title song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang).
[pull_left]All the Rage is daring, well-written, and stands to remind audiences of the importance of innovative independent theatre[/pull_left]
Directed and designed by Rock Surfers Artistic Director Leland Kean in a return to theatre after a three-year absence, we appreciate at once why he’s been so missed. The play is clever in its wordplay and shocking in its brutality, and with simple yet brilliant choices in staging (there’s basically a chair and a box onstage and that’s all you need), casting (the entire cast was strong) and costume design (who knew shoes could be so perfect?) Kean has created an understated, almost elegantly violent winner.
Boyler (Xavier Coy) is henchman stupid without veering into cliche territory; he’s young, bull-headed and disarmingly likable for someone so unsavoury, and is a standout performer. Even more compelling to watch was Duncan Fellows as The Baker, the world-weary and actually intelligent bomb specialist who took an almost visceral delight in running intellectual rings around his watcher Boyler. As a comic duo they were well-balanced, but more importantly well-timed; so much of comedy, especially the darker kind, finds its power in timing, and these actors did not disappoint.
All the Rage is daring, well-written, and stands to remind audiences of the importance of innovative independent theatre. A hidden treat.