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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

The Platypus, at Theatre Works (Buckets Nijinsky Productions) - 100 minutes, plus a 20-minute interval

The disintegration of a marriage with a decided difference.

 

The Platypus is confronting, comedic (anarchic, even) and creative.

 

Two actors play all the principal roles, save for the brief appearance of a third party.

 

A wife has dragged her husband along to the theatre. I say “dragged” because it is far from his favourite thing.

 

He is not a great one for etiquette and yells out at a mate he sees in the audience.

 

His wife tries to tell him that that is not the done thing.

 

She then proceeds to inform him that the mate he was yelling out to, Richard, and his wife, Jessica, are going through a rough patch.

 

The rest of the play primarily focuses on the breakdown of their relationship and the intervention of other parties – as mentioned, all played by the same two actors.

 

Richard (John Leary) is angry and belligerent, playful and vulnerable.

 

Jessica (Rebecca Bower) is disappointed and disillusioned, frustrated and sensual.

 

They have been together for a decade and have a son, who is six going on seven (played alternately by Ky Hughes and Louis Silberman-Sharp).

 

Leary and Bower are outstanding in their multiplicity of roles, which include Richard and Jessica’s friends, lovers and work colleagues.

 

In fact, it is quite remarkable how seamlessly and how often they switch gears and, accents.

 

This bold, provocative, thoughtful and impressive work is by writer and director Francis Greenslade.

 

On occasions, the actors are asked to pivot to Shakespearean English and sing, do stand up and ventriloquism.

 

I was left asking whether there was anything this dynamic duo couldn’t accomplish with alacrity and conviction.

 

The piece has impact from the get-go, when husband wife appear to inch their way into their seats in the theatre (without any real impediments, I might add).

 

It is most amusing and relatable.

 

Thereafter, developments keep us – the audience – on our toes. We never know what is going to happen next, with surprises aplenty.

 

Much of the action takes place in and around a conventional kitchen setting, while the choice of coats and a jumper is enough to designate one character or another.

 

As to the title, the platypus is a favourite animal of the son in the piece.

 

It is also seen as a strange creature, composed of odds and ends.

 

As the blurb about the production states, it is as though evolution got tired one afternoon and stopped paying attention to what it was doing.

 

It seems wrong. Strangely put together. A curiosity. Just like the play itself.

 

I was fascinated, intrigued and involved, and found much to appreciate in his bleak black comedy.

 

It is playing at Theatre Works until 6th July, 2024.


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