Road Movie

Adelaide Town Hall, Prince Alfred Room. 27 Feb 2012

Road Movie is a stunning one-man show about earnestly searching for love and the despair when it is cruelly snatched away by an insurmountable enemy.

Dirk Hoult plays Joel, a gay New Yorker, who is desperately trying to find himself through the love of another person.  He has lost a small part of himself along the way, somewhere, and his is desperately trying to retrieve it.  Tragically he has AIDS and he habitually looks in the wrong places. 

But this is not just another AIDS story.  There is a very real risk that it could be self-pitying and an anthem for the tragedy of an underserved disease and wasted life, but the writing leaves such overworked themes well behind.

Joel finds himself down and out in San Francisco and meets Scott who is attracted to him.  They form a relationship but it ends when Joel returns to NY.  Joel misses his new lover terribly and after a period of trying to make the best of a long-distance romance, he decides to return to SF and heads off on the five day road trip to get there.  At various stopovers on the way he meets a number of quite peculiar characters, who each share with him very personal aspects of their lives, and through these encounters he learns more about himself and about meaningful love.  However, when he arrives in SF and looks for Scott he is greeted by tragic news.

Hoult’s performance is remarkable and very moving.  The text largely comprises a number of episodic dialogues – the solo actor speaking both parts – separated by narrations, and Hoult moves effortlessly and convincingly between the numerous characters;  a different smile and set of the head for one character; a different lilt and accent for another.  His characterisations were hip and humorous when they needed to be, and heart achingly sad at other times.  The intimacy of the venue allowed him to seemingly look his audience members in the eye and share Joel’s pain and joy with them.

The text by Godfrey Hamilton is exceptional.  It is richly described without being overwritten or laboured.  The numerous characters are quickly established, but there is enough substance in each of them for Hoult to develop.  The writing in the final scene – where Scott’s drugged-out flatmate explains that each piercing in her face is a memorial to a friend and that the most recent one is still painful to the touch – was incredibly moving and poignant.

This is the sort of theatre that you can very easily go back to and see again, and again.

Kym Clayton

When: 28 Feb to 3 Mar
Where: Adelaide Town Hall, Prince Alfred Room
Bookings: www.adelaidefringe.com.au