The Laughter Subsides

What makes a happy relationship? When does silence with a friend become comfortable?  Playwright and director Sam Basger explore these issues in The Laughter Subsides at the Tap Gallery.  

 Crowd of Three Theatre Company in conjunction with Factory Space TheatreTap Gallery, Melbourne Tuesday, 25 May, 2010 What makes a happy relationship? When does silence with a friend become comfortable?  Playwright and director Sam Basger explore these issues in The Laughter Subsides at the Tap Gallery.   The monochrome mural backdrop paints a fairly generic picture. We know we’re in a house with traditional mantelpiece; picture frames and flying ducks on the wall and a bookshelf filled with texts that normal, everyday people own. 
However as soon as the play begins, all sense of normalcy leaves. A couple Bennett (Lara Dignam) and Claude (Richard Hillar) are supposedly sitting at the dinner table, although their heads are where their feet should be and vice versa. They schedule their arguments, talk in an over excited manner and have odd pauses where they look awkwardly at the audience and wait for the lights to go down. 
The crux of their arguments, however, may be familiar to many. They bicker about table manners and use over exaggerations such as ‘You ruin everything’ to get their point across. As the play progresses, we realise the playwright is shining a light on the depressing side effect of long-term relationships. When the laughter subsides and the conversation dries up, couples try to fill the void with pointless arguments and self created drama. The stereotypes we supposedly uphold in a relationship suddenly become ridiculous, as are the day-to-day activities we carry out to occupy our time. 
This absurdist piece inspired by writers such as Beckett and Pinter showcases great performances by the main couple. Cameron Ellis plays a different character in each section of the play and adds to the comic relief. The only letdown is the unnecessary interior monologues that come across even more farcical than intended with a garden variety torch being used as the spotlight. 
It is obvious the playwright analysed this topic extensively however in only 50 minutes it’s hard to absorb everything the play is trying to convey. Regardless, it’s a thought provoking and for the most part, entertaining, piece of theatre.  Season Closed 

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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