Life Is Impossible


Life Is Impossible is the latest of Writer/Director Paul Gilchrist’s works in what seems to be a running theme of “young girl overseas who runs into some sort of trouble and possesses a strong moral compass. 

Subtlenuance Theatre 
Newtown Theatre, Sydney

Wednesday, 29 September, 2010 

Life Is Impossible is the latest of Writer/Director Paul Gilchrist’s works in what seems to be a running theme of “young girl overseas who runs into some sort of trouble and possesses a strong moral compass. This is not a poke at his ability or choice of themes, it is a statement of fact. In Life Is Impossible we are transported back to 1940s America. This is Gilchrist’s most ambitious outing this year and it is also contains the biggest cast at four people. The runtime is just over 100 minutes with no interval and at that length the heavy dialogue is a tough ask on both the audience and the actors themselves.

Lupprian, Richards and Connolly are all familiar with the mechanics of a Gilchrist play so it is important to discuss the inclusion of Brett Nevill, who brings a new life to the fray as a member of the British Consulate. His portrayal comes across as part Basil Fawlty and not necessarily always meaning to be humorous. The dynamic between his character and that of Simone Weil (Richards) is nice to watch though the focus is more on Richards than Nevill.

Connolly was seen earlier this year in talc. There he was guilty of a lack of authenticity in his performance. Here, he is trusted with an American accent that doesn’t sit comfortably on him and this affects his delivery. His character is less animated and more human this time around though his accent that still creates a disconnect with the audience.

Lupprian plays an Australian on an overseas posting with the United Nations in New York. Her character is full of whimsy and is easily led by men in uniform. Her character is very thinly written and the role seems somewhat shallow compared to previous outings. The saviour in her performance is her singing voice that is used with care in Gilchrist’s piece. When she and Connolly’s serviceman are singing together only she is in key and it is unclear if their duet was meant to be taken seriously as it didn’t sit well with this reviewer.

Richards as Simone Weil is the strongest character. Taken from real life, her sullen demeanour and negative approach to everyday living is in stark contrast to her most recent role in A THING OF BEAUTY. Her French accent is understated and credible. Her introverted manner captures the audience, though her expression of compassion and willingness to suffer for the greater good of humanity comes off a little undercooked.

The dialogue seems somewhat forced in parts and, as mentioned earlier, it was a tough ask on the audience to sit through such a runtime without an interval. There could have been less dialogue without compromise on the script to bring it in under 90 minutes.

The cast don’t get time on stage as a complete ensemble. Their various pairings come across okay with the audience although none of them really draw your attention or interest.

Producer and designer Daniela Girogi’s lighting design is a visual treat. Her realisation of a New York street scape is nicely done. The use of books on stage to mark out the space was also a nice touch.

Life Is Impossible is a credit to the ability of Paul Gilchrist. Although it doesn’t quite resonate with the audience, and its newest player is noticeably worried about his delivery, credit should be given for trying new ground, though perhaps familiar territory of modern dilemmas are more befitting of his abilities.

Bookings: 85073034 or

September 29 – October 16, 2010

Tuesday to Saturday 8pm

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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