The Call

Junglebean. The Bakehouse Theatre. 17 Oct 2012

With the US Court of Appeals’ dismissal of similar charges to the ones that David Hicks was sentenced on, Jungelbeanʼs The Call becomes a provocative in-the-moment enquiry into what turns an ordinary suburban young man into an Islamist freedom fighter, abandoning everything and everyone he has been a part of or grown up with.

Junglebean demonstrates how excellent theatre can be made with a good script at the core; an insightful director; an experienced set and costumes designer; a creative lighting and sound designer; four talented actors; and the right space to mount this engaging 95 minute theatrical gem.

The action starts in a poultry factory with Gary, a young man, locked into an aimless suburban existence, and moves swiftly scene by scene as he mindlessly get his girlfriend pregnant; loses the plot along with his two long time mates; finds the plot when they don’t; and turns towards Allah and Islam.

The playwright, Melbourne based Patricia Cornelius, has written a sharp almost poetic script that moves quickly and covers some major social issues as its main protagonist, Gary, slowly comes to his life’s focus.

David Mealor, the director, skilfully brings the script to life with a strong emphasis on an almost choreographic connection between the four actors, the several characters each play, the scenes, and even the set changes. This creates a flawless development of the theatrical flow leading to the final monologue delivered by Gary in his orange prison jump suit.

I found it hard to imagine The Call without Kathryn Sproulʼs elegant minimalist set of three vertical plastic screens that are silently propelled backwards and forwards to create a delicate, but at times steely, backdrop to each scene. Her costumes are similarly intrinsic to this production and range from poultry factory gear to blooded animal carcass uniforms or contemporary suburban street wear.

Nic English, Renee Gentle, Guy OʼGrady and Tim Overton propel their characters through a range of sex, drugs and rock and roll moments that both alarm and draw the audience in. Each actor brings clarity to their work, whether as the sad and degraded Denise (Renee Gentle) who loses her dream and gains two kids which she never wanted in the first place; as Chunk (Nic English) who moves from being an athletic and inspirational power source to a more and more macho male; as Aldo (Guy OʼGrady) the fun fool of the group who loses everything to drugs; or as Gary (Tim Overton) the easy going follower who gets The Call.

These are four exciting young Adelaide actors who handle the rapid fire demands of a fast script with consummate skill and insight into their characters and the theatrical potential of each moment. Deeply embedded into this production is the lighting and sound design. Ben Flettʼs double design lifts the onstage action to a high level of engagement by the audience. His sound design covers a wide spectrum from Carl Orffʼs Carmina Burana through to live guitar. Loud sounds, fast lighting changes and some canny image projection on the plastic screens chillingly makes total sense by the end of the production.

Junglebean presents a bare bones show than never lags and has a sensuous and compelling beauty to it - a treat for the senses. This production is a thought provoking comment on what turns an ordinary young man into someone on the other side of safe society. Smooth as silk.

Martin Christmas

When: 13 to 27 Oct
Where: Bakehouse Theatre