I think I might make a habit out of this…
After work yesterday I wandered along to Fortyfive Downstairs, and proceeded down five (?) flights of stairs, a couple of floors underground to a most wonderful performance space. I was intent on discovering the answer to just what had happened atop Mt. Ragged, an answer sure to be buried within The Haunting of Daniel Gartell. A Straightjacket Production, the play featured John Wood, Samuel Johnson and Marcella Russo. Reg Cribb’s play was skilfully directed by Lucy Freeman.
As usual, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from the place or the performance but I can honestly say I was delighted by both. Fortyfive Downstairs is a not-for-profit organisation and in keeping with this, there is an immediate for the love of it feeling when you enter the space. A sneaky glass of red, enjoyed whilst listening to the actors warm up behind black curtains, was a great way to get out of work-mode and into a performing-arts headspace.
From the outset the piece is poetic, and as the title suggests, haunting. The dialogue throughout is fast-paced and well-considered, and John and Sam play opposite each other with just the right amount of intensity. Despite obvious differences between these two actors, the intimate interplay between Daniel Gartrell and Craig Castevich involves an impressive mirroring of each others’ characters. This was done with subtlety, adding a real depth and intrigue to the progress of the story. I’ve not see Marcella Russo perform before, but I was really drawn to her performance. She built a character that was both awkward and confident, shut-in but nonetheless wily.
Despite the intensity of this play, it’s obvious sorrow and frightening end, it is also really funny. All three stars have a quick, dry wit and this shows through in the cleverly humorous elements of the play.
At the end of the day, this play delivers a bit of a laugh, a touch of romance, stormy bush poetry and a whole lot of heartbreak.
Finally, if you’re up for a little giggle, here’s Samuel Johnson hamming it up a little (courtesy of Straightjacket Productions.)
Finally, finally (I almost forgot) make sure you watch the blog tomorrow for details of our June giveaway!