On Centre Stage.
A Dotty Little Piece
By Douglas Kennedy.
Pale Blue Dot by Kathryn Marquet. Stars Ashlee Lollback, Hugh Parker, Caroline Kennison, Lucy Goleby. Directed by Michael Futcher. La Boite. Till August 9.
Young playwright Kathryn Marquet’s Pale Blue Dot is a dotty little piece about aliens and alienation, but for all that it’s rollicking good fun.
This four hander – that’s the modern way unless you’re staging one of the classics such as Macbeth or a mega musical with Lisa McCune – is a tight little yarn with four rather troubled characters.
The catalyst is unhappy insurance investigator Jole (Hugh Parker), who doesn’t so much hate his job as hates what he has to do to make his job work, and it shows from the word go.
When we first meet him he’s having a rant – in the form of a monologue – about a chancer he’s just interviewed about a stolen car and jewelry.
The sloppy fraudster has obviously tried to pull the wool over Jole’s eyes – with a ridiculous yarn – and incidentally insulted his not unsubstantial intelligence.
The investigator’s spiel of consciousness is one of a couple in the show dotted with insults, which indicate the writer might have grown up watching Blackadder.
However, things are just about to get a whole lot worse for Jole whose next assignment involves confronting 17-year-old Storm (Lucy Goleby), and her excitable mum Greta (Caroline Kennison), who have a fantastic story suggesting the teen was taken by aliens.
(Apparently Jole’s company strangely offers taken-by-aliens and other UFO related insurance).
Joel – who has his own problems at home with neurotic wife and new mum Holly (Lucy Goleby) – soon finds himself drawn in the mother and child’s fraught and frustrated world.
The bigger alien story is – of course – a metaphor for more personal and intimate human dramas unfolding on stage between these characters who become increasing dotty as the narrative journeys on.
In real-life these characters would – I imagine – be a total pain in the butt with all their problems, but on stage it’s more like a jolly romp (and a funny one at that).
I was more taken with the comedy than the drama – but maybe that says more about me than the talent involved – and loved a cameo from Kennison in which she plays an over-the-top UFO fanatic.
Everyone brings fine comic skills to the stage and Michael Futcher brings his consummate skills to the piece. There’s also some wonderful lighting from Jason Glenwright and stunning out-of-this world projection design from optikal bloc.
It’s difficult to know if actor turned first time playwright Marquet’s work has the legs to take it far and wide, but it’s certainly worth a sprint to La Boite before season’s end.