Q44 launched as a company earlier in the year and Theresa Rebeck’s 1992 play Spike Heels is their third production, this time in conjunction with Crazy Chair Productions and at Chapel off Chapel instead of their cosy home in a Richmond warehouse.
As a company of actors, they produce the plays they want to perform – kind of like Red Stitch. And so far, they love late 20th century North American naturalism where there are lots of terrific works to choose from.
Spike Heels was Rebeck’s first full-length play and she’s gone on to write many more and establish a career as a successful television and film writer. Set in an upper east-cost US city in the late 1980s, the story starts with the friendship between 20/30-something uni professor Andrew (Anthony Scundi) and his 20-something upstairs neighbour, Georgie (Nicole Melloy), who is as rough and loud as her Bronx accent. He gives her books to read, found her a job with a lawyer friend of his, Edward (Michael Robins), and wants her to meet his posh girlfriend, Lydia (Lelda Kapis). But Edward’s intentions towards Georgie are less than pure, Lydia used to date Edward, and why would Andrew be learning-up the hot woman if he didn’t fancy her.
Directed by company founder Gabriella Rose-Carter, it’s tight and real and reflects on how too little changes in sexual politics. The four actors bring honesty and technique to the stage, but I’d love to see them bring a bit more of themselves to the characters. All are memorable and exciting actors, but there’s a shadow of distance between actors and characters – especially in the comedy – that reminds us that we’re watching a game of make believe.
Q44 have already made confident ripples in Melbourne’s independent theatre scene and are finding their unique niche and a loyal and happy audience, and showing us wonderful plays that we may never have otherwise seen.