The Dinner Party Play: a familiar environment for characters letting loose over a few wines and telling each other what they really think. In Sydney this year alone there have been at least six dinner party plays with three more programmed for main stage productions next year. Thirty Three, written by Alistair Powning and Michael Booth holds all of this promise within the cosy confines of Level 2 at the Old Fitzroy Theatre.
Saskia lives in a fabulous house, with a fabulous career, and has fabulous friends. She is celebrating her 33rd birthday with a fabulous dinner party. Add to this the unexpected arrival of her long lost brother Joshua, Jägerbombs, a married couple in crisis, broken promises, family secrets, flowing wine and you can see where the night is headed.
The Ensemble cast are for the most part evenly matched and Jessica Wren as Saskia keeps the whole evening bubbling along well with her relaxed warmth and emotional accessibility. Lily (Georgia Scott) and Lachlan (Ben Dalton) add great opposing energies to the piece. Rose Maher and James Bell are infinitely watchable as warring power couple Tim and Maya, they are bold, raw, and well matched in their power games.
The real star of the show is the venue and how seamlessly it has been used. We are flies on the wall, sitting on the edge of the dinner table trying to catch what is happening in the next room as well as five centimetres in front of us. The design genuinely feels like an inner west terrace, some balcony scenes work more than others and like any good party there is a laughter and dancing. The clever use of overlapping dialogue keeps the rhythm of the piece in track and gives the snap & fizzle of the competing agendas.
So, Sydney has a new theatre space… well sort of – a familiar space reimagined well. Red Line continue their revitalisation of the Old Fitzroy Theatre with Thirty Three and it will be exciting to see where they take us next. Thirty Three is like any good dinner party, funny, poignant and perhaps a reminder of how we are really striving in life not for careers or money or houses but a deeper connection to each other.
Fiona Hallenan Barker – Theatre Now & Talking Arts