Long before Scot Williams’ new psychodrama reaches its surprising conclusion there’s a scene where a character describes the meaning of the word “hope” as falling “somewhere between a maybe and a sure thing”.
Revolving around the glum world of Norm, an aspiring novelist plagued by writer’s block, the play itself eventually falls somewhere between a mystery and a quasi-philosophical remembrance of times past, as imagined through the pages of The Little Prince and the films of Laurel and Hardy. But it mostly comes across as theatrically and thematically unsure.
If nervy old Norm (Mark Womack) - bewitched by sexy but secretive lodger Hope (Samantha Womack) and bothered by infuriating flat-mate Guy (Rene Zagger) - can’t begin to dislodge his own mysterious internal psychological impasse, then there’s not much hope for a bewildered audience trying to keep tabs on his inexplicable plight, or follow the play’s oblique literary references to magpies, roses, foxes and model aircraft. At least, that is, until the final coup de theatre when Norm’s mental sink is unplugged and the mystery surrounding his hemmed-in life unfolds on Carmen De Lemos’ gloriously grimy living room set.
Perhaps Williams, who also plays drug-dealing interloper Victor, ought to have relinquished the director’s role. His staging fails to bring out the dramatic potential of his own script, while an otherwise experienced team of fellow actors, using severely over-amped face mics, struggle with contrived dialogue that could do with a reality check as well as a sound check. There is hope for this production. But maybe a creative rethink is required if it is ever going to become a sure thing.