Softly Pouting While Walking into Breezes by Jake Stewart

A talented tribe of eight newly graduated theatre makers takes us for a stroll into breezes that are equal parts tender, rough and hugely camp. This is a remount of a Monash Uni Student Theatre (MUST) production and it has all the hallmarks of a crazy bunch of dedicated students having fun with language and camp theatrics whilst exploring interesting material –  the trepidation of the young as they seek and find first love.

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It’s a perfect production for Midsumma and will appeal to the wide range tastes of the LGBTI community. It’s packed full of contemporary references, great looking performers who, amongst other things, swirl, perform downward dogs, play guitar and flex their bicep and quad muscles (each cast member wears short lycra bike pants). The energy and commitment to the script shines through and it is a real delight seeing such smart and self-effacing actors on the small La Mama stage getting up to all sorts of shenanigans.

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The play is essentially a series of vignettes with a story thread about Ben who meets Toby and then spends the next 3 years getting over their break-up. The whole ensemble stay on stage for the entire 90 minutes and the part of Ben is shared between the actors, showing Ben in the throes of love and then the despair of rejection. One tender and amusing scene is when Toby (Alasdair Huggett), in a serenely cocky way, asks Ben (Chris Edwards) to choose which of his body parts appeals the most. Toby then proceeds to hand Ben a black texta and tells him to circle that part. What then ensues is a very funny punch line.

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Some of the other scenes see the cast musing over what happens when a bloke seems to always fall for their female friend’s new boyfriend. Or, how precious is that first romantic kiss? Or, what to do with a teacher overly eager to explore romantic poetry in a year 10 class making his students uncomfortable. There are many more.

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The women in the cast were very strong. Imogen Walsh brings sparkle and lightness to her scenes and she is so well animated. Ariadne Sgouros is the strategic and smart friend, willing to listen but keen to give advice, however harsh. Tennessee Mynott-Rudland has a very appealing clipped speech and her confidence on stage is evident. Sam Nix is excellent at playing the goofy and as well as the serious character. Alistair Trapnell uses his characterful face to great effect. Alasdair Huggett exudes strength and calmness on stage. Chris Edwards aptly produces good contrast between light and dark in his portrayal of Ben and other characters throughout. Thomas Little delivers many poignant lines and a very appealing monologue with skill.

The cast work so well together and it is this that endears you to this production. Director, Jessica McLaughlin-Cafferty, uses every inch of the small La Mama stage and has the ensemble get up to all manner of moves and postures. Writer, Jake Stewart could do further editing to shorten the length of the piece which would only enhance the wittier and more effective scenes. There is much ebb and flow, resulting in there being a few too many places where the dialogue is flat and the vivacity of the play dims a little. For the most part though, the play lives up to its wonderfully poetic sounding title.

Softly Pouting While Walking into Breezes.

By Jake Stewart

La Mama Theatre as part of Midsumma Festival 2015.

Jan 14th to Feb 1st.

3 stars.

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