David Williamson is notably one of Australia’s most prolific playwrights for a reason. He observes and carefully comments on the constructs of society, prompting his audience to react and think a little differently. His most recent offering, Odd Man Out does not disappoint.

A beautiful love story at its heart, Odd Man Out emerges into a captivating tale of social expectation, control, and identity (without giving too much away). Principal character Alice, played by Lisa Gormley, narrates the action forming a vested interest with the audience as we try to decipher the obstacles of her unusually challenging relationship, right along side her. Justin Stewart Cotta was outstanding, leading the cast as the enigmatic Ryan. His beautifully idiosyncratic performance is filled with nuance and soul. It’s difficult to take your eyes off of him.

Simple but intriguing staging by Anna Gardiner, established the plays theme with a modest, albeit sterile set. A luminous backdrop with colourful marks pulsating with light was a clever representation of the brain and our primal senses, although I wished they had found a way to utilise this beautiful concept more often throughout. The ensemble, accompanied by the simple sound design by Alistair Wallace, created atmosphere flawlessly.

This thoughtful work is well constructed and although a tad didactic at times, tactfully delivered by director, Mark Kilmurry. Odd Man Out challenges personal acceptance vs. social acceptance and whether one, can undermine the other or in-fact coincide, when we are all ‘Living in the social arena’. A lovely play about accepting people for who they are, something I believe we all need to be reminded of from time to time. Intelligent, heart wrenching, and poignantly funny, this play is one not to be missed.

Playing until March 18 at the Ensemble Theatre

Jess Wright – Theatre now and Talking Arts