The latest play to open in Project Arts Centre is Vincent River, a Philip Ridley play first performed in 2000 in London. This new production is directed by Sophie Motley and stars Eleanor Methven (Anita) and Kerr Logan (Davey).
The two characters, Anita and Davey, start the play as strangers brought together by unfortunate circumstances. The opening minutes of the play seem odd, jarring even, and I was briefly concerned that I wasn't going to care for either of the characters or for their misfortunes.
And then, bit by bit, sentence by sentence, I got drawn in. It's a slow build but a constant one, and the disjointed initial conversation turn into a progressively more intense dialogue between Anita and Davey. The final few minutes were gripping: by this point I cared about the characters and I was wrapped up in their story. Looking back afterwards, the seemingly awkward start to the play makes more sense - I think it was a deliberate choice, not an accident. (And yes, I'm intentionally being vague about the plot.)
While I never go to the theatre to admire the acting - I simply want to enjoy the play - I know just enough about the subject to have been impressed by how much was going on. The play consists of a single unrelenting scene and two characters; the actors have to be focused and 'on' all the time. There are several very nice moments, such as when Kerr plays Davey's failed attempt to deny a comment made by Anita - showing the audience a realistic denial without convincing them of it.
There is of course more to the theatre experience than just the play. The venue is also crucial and greatly contributed to my enjoyment of the evening. I'll mostly leave that for another post, except to say one of the best aspects of Project Arts Centre is how close it allows the audience to get to the action on stage. At one point a prop - no longer needed - rolled away from Kerr Logan. It stopped after about a meter because it had reached the front row of the audience. This physical closeness worked very well for 'Vincent River'.
Vincent River runs in Project Arts Centre up to and including 21st August 2010.
Conclusion: intense, well-acted, and compelling.