Jerry and Tom – Insomniac theatre

The latest offering from the ever prolific Maggie Scott and her Insomniac Theatre group is a fun night of bloody pub theatre.

Jerry and Tom is a play by Rick Cleveland, best known for his work as a writer on the West Wing and House of Cards. In Jerry and Tom Insomniac theatre has chosen rich material. It is a punchy, darkly comedic script where the main characters find themselves in absurd situations. 

Jerry and Tom. Photo by GiGee Photography.
Jerry and Tom. Photo by GiGee Photography.

The idea behind the story is simple but equally provocative: the play follows the lives of a couple of guys who have solid family values but just happen to be mafia hit men.

Boris Brkic and Steve Maresca as Tom and Jerry really flesh out their characters. There was a casualness in the dynamic between the two actors that played well into the storyline. Brkic carries a seasoned air that helps to centre the action onstage. His Tom is dry and humorous.  Brkic also brings to the stage a believability, not a little related to the fact that both he and Tom are mentors – Brkic for the other actors onstage with him, and Tom for his partner in crime Jerry.

Andrew Mead, notably in the character of Tony, does a standout job. It is a big ask to have an actor don so many different roles, especially when he has to do so in a foreign accent. Mead carries out the task well, creating distinctions in the various characters he plays were it matters, helping the audience better understand what is going on.

Maggie Scott as the director seems to have allowed the actors a lot of license to do their own thing. At times however the blocking did interfere with the audience’s engagement with the action of the play – including characters with their backs to the audience. 

The set was simplistic, which allowed a lot of opportunity for the actors to work their craft and despite the heavy American accents all three actors adopt, the dialogue was clear and there was never a point where the flow of conversation was difficult to follow. The Fresnel lighting that was used throughout perfectly suited the play’s casual and intimate atmosphere.

Jerry and Tom by Insomniac Theatre. Photo by GiGee Photography.
Jerry and Tom by Insomniac Theatre. Photo by GiGee Photography.

The only let-downs, besides a few seemingly unnecessary sound effects (such as the groaning women in the scene where Jerry botches a job, designed by Maggie Scott), were the very many transitions that were fairly drawn out, and the large amount of costume changes. Tom probably didn’t need to have as many costume changes as he did and at some points these actually impeded the play’s flow. The number and length of transitions or black-outs also became a barrier to the audience’s engagement with the play. Had there been less need for set, costume and prop changes, I do wonder whether these transitions could have been more streamlined and sharp.

All in all, Jerry and Tom is a fun night out in a casual pub setting. The story itself is that black-comedy-Pulp-Fiction-mafia-hitman sort of affair that is always entertaining. On top of that, the Exchange Hotel is a great venue where one can sit down, have a beer and watch a play where the actors stand less than 5 metres away.

Jerry and Tom is on from the 9 April to 30 April at the Craftsman’s Bar in the Exchange Hotel in Balmain. Ticket prices $30 adult/ $25 concession.

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