Review: Buried City
REVIEW: Let me say it straight and not wrap it in ribbons: as a piece of theatre Buried City is tough going. I applaud its ambitions and appreciate the talents of those involved but dear god it is a long 80 minutes in the theatre.
Set late at night on a gutted building site somewhere in Sydney the play asks that we follow a potpourri of people from different places with different problems and different ideas when it comes to exchanging pleasantries as they sort out what might bring them together or push them further apart.
The title, as explained by director Alicia Talbot in the program notes, refers to the “complex emotional territory we keep buried in ourselves and struggle with”. But what is actually hidden is a decent script and it looks like it would take Billy Bones’ map, a parrot and a bunch of pirates to find it.
Going back over my jottings made in the dark seems to concur with what I remember thinking at the time which was there seemed to be no logical reason why these people were gathered at this location in the first place and I couldn’t see what was keeping them there. On opening night a severe electrical storm contributed in some small way towards solving this significant flaw in the writing but Mother Nature is a busy woman and won’t be on hand for every performance.
Basically we are left to believe it’s the ‘talk’ that is stopping them from leaving this rubbish strewn, precarious environment designed by Mirabelle Wouters. Oh yes. This is an old school construction site – no OH&S here –and it appears, at least in the minds of middle class theatre practitioners, that poor people dig garbage.
Anyhow, some very interesting actors – Perry Keyes, Russell Kiefel, Meyne Wyatt, Effie Nkrumah, Hazem Shammas and Valerie Berry – do their damndest to make the most of verbal sparrings that go nowhere.
Good points include Keyes’ heartfelt songs, Wyatt’s unmistakable star quality and the fact that an attempt was made to present a far more authentic portrait of contemporary Australia than what is being promised on commercial television in 2012. Tricky Business anyone?
Buried City, Belvoir St Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills, until February 5. Bookings: (02) 9699 3444 or www.belvoir.com.au