Matt Byrne Media – Holden Street Theatres
Matt Byrne has been saving up Richard Alfieri’s “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” for nearly 3 years now, and it’s clear to see why he has been so passionate about bringing this production to Adelaide. The witty writing is both comedic and emotionally touching, delivering some serious messages about tolerance, homosexuality, age, and loss. Byrne has handpicked Chris Bussey and Kim Clark to play the roles of Lily Harrison and
Michael Minetti, and it’s clear why – with both delivering outstanding performances.
The story centers around widowed Lily and her “at home” dance teacher Michael, but really has nothing to do with the dancing. The subtext is all about relationships and acceptance, and quite predictably starts with the two characters disliking each other immensely and ends with them as best of friends. Despite the unsurprising direction of the play the message is still endearing, and as Alfieri cleverly writes the characters so we come to love them, the loss is heightened when one of them begins to die towards the end.
Byrne has come exceedingly close to going for the easy laugh in this interpretation of the script, and may have even missed a few more opportunities to tug at the heart strings; however whilst teetering on the edge, the show is incredibly enjoyable to watch and excellently performed.
The set is a real winner for Byrne and stands out as one of the greatest sets to date for an MBM show. Mitchell Geci’s lighting perfectly recreates the Florida feel, and Jude Menz’s costumes complete the look very nicely.
The first act whizzed along very quickly and I felt we could have benefited from a little more time to consider, appreciate and relate to the characters. The second act however, was perfectly paced and climaxed wonderfully towards the end. A little overuse of the space was also frustrating and felt unnecessary, during poignant moments when the characters would get up and move, only to create a new tableau on the other side of the room to finish their dialogue.
Niggling issues aside, the overall production was just wonderful, and really enjoyable to watch. Light and airy, whilst holding onto the important messages, it was an emotional journey that the audience could only have enjoyed participating in. With such great performances from Bussey and Clark, this production is sure to have audiences smiling all the way home!
17 Nov 2010
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