Review / New play struggles to maintain interest

Theatre / “The Inheritance’. Written by Greg Gould, directed by Cate Clelland, At Belconnen Theatre to August 19. Reviewed by LEN POWER

THE writer of “The Inheritance”, Canberra’s Greg Gould, has won awards for short plays but this, his first full-length play, suffers from construction problems, over-written characters and a storyline that struggles to maintain interest.

The play focuses on a family squabbling before the reading of the will of their recently deceased father.

The lengthy first half consists of the sisters and mother mostly bringing up past grievances. There’s too much detail that doesn’t really add up to much or move the story on.

Flashback scenes with the father are confusing and have little relevance to the plot.  Having the mother sitting in the toilet and refusing to come out, results in an overlong and static sequence. The banter between the characters, while occasionally amusing, sounds more like television sitcom than realistic theatre dialogue.

The short second half leads to the reading of the will and an interesting, but not clearly explained surprise.

Director Cate Clelland has produced an uneven show on a drab office and bathroom composite set that she also designed. Acting performances vary widely, but it’s hard to judge the quality of performances when the actors seem to be struggling with over-written characters.

Linda Chen’s character, at least, does have a nicely understated sense of reality and this good actress makes the most of it. Rob Defries brings depth and humour to the small role of the lawyer. The clichéd and offensive, comedy relief, gay character Paul  adds nothing to the plot except irritation.

It’s good to see an enterprising local theatre company, in Budding Theatre, stage a new play by a Canberra writer, but “The Inheritance” still needs a lot of work if it’s to have a future.

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