four short sharp stories

— REVIEW of ‘Side Effect’ | Beat (two star)

Side Effect | Review

Jo Robin | Beat Magazine
Sep, 2013
Two Stars

Side Effect is four short, sharp stories that transport the audience into the tacky underbelly of Brisvegas. Clad in a sparkling gold jacket, director Tobias Manderson-Galvin unlocks the gates to a lane way set and the Fortitude Valley of the mind.

The first section captured all the energy of the ice addict one encounters on an early morning pilgrimage home. It’s protagonist tells his story of munted mates and misogynism with such conviction that you can almost smell the vomit on his shirt. The second tale of modern infatuation and disconnection was probably the most moving of the four, lifted by a soulful live accompaniment from singer Kerith Manderson Galvin. From this point out however there is little to offset the onslaught of crass.

The third and longest section (it may not be the longest, it just felt as though it might never end) allows the audience to bear witness to the painful ritual of teenage pre-drinks. While its three over-the-top school girls could perhaps maintain a 30 second skit, their continuous bitchy, manipulative and racist banter elicits a mixture of uncomfortable laughter and outright squirming. Breaks from dialogue in which the characters self narrate, upset the flow of the story and also add unnecessary extra seconds to the discomfort. The final scene, depicting a regrettable sexual encounter, is much brighter and thankfully shorter. It has well executed humorous dialogue, singing, dancing, slow motion martial arts and plenty of gold spandex.

The scantily clad cast should be applauded for maintaining an unceasing energy throughout, even on a grey Melbourne evening. The play is full of sex and dark humor and it really does conjure Fortitude Valley in all its brutal boozing vulgarity. However, it may have some longing for the comfort of Melbourne’s liberal arts bubble, and will have few planning trips to Fortitude Valley, in the mind or otherwise.

“four short sharp stories”