Saturday, June 2, 2018

79 Days: Theatre Review - Wild

The Show:  Wild by Mike Bartlett

Melbourne Theatre Company - The Sumner Theatre  5 May - 9 June

"Do you want the truth, or do you want to hear something that will make you feel good?"

A man. A woman. A hotel room. What the hell is happening here?

Mike Bartlett's three-man play has the audience gripped from the second they walk into the auditorium, there the stage, surrounded by television screens with people on their computers talking to one another. The only noise which can be heard is static. Then the action begins.

Wild broaches the subject of what happens to the whistle blower once the whistle has been blown - on the scale of Edward Snowden or Julian Assange. Andrew (Nicholas Denton) finds himself locked in a hotel room with a strange woman (Anna Lise Phillips). The woman is familiar, yet strangely off putting at the same time.  In the first ten minutes of the play, we learn that Andrew has let some very big secrets out of the bag. He has gone from being Mr Nobody, to the name on everybody's lips - just like Assange or Snowden. After a border run, he is stuck in a Moscow hotel room with these strange, sometimes funny, sometimes menacing people come and visit. Who are these people? We never quite know.

What is apparent over the 100 minute play is that this psychological thriller is that this cat and mouse game is both funny, tense and very on the ball as it looks at our world, the digital media and how taking responsibility for your actions can get you into serious trouble. It was an experience to watch a play where you were forever on edge, wondering what the hell was going to happen next.

Nicholas Denton is perfect as the hapless Andrew, indignant and innocent in equal measure - who looks enthralling without his shirt on (worth the ticket price alone in my humble opinion).

Anna Lise Phillips is the woman - who at one stage calls herself George. Who she is and who she is working for is never fully revealed. Her whack job persona is both joyful and unsettling - and would never want to be stuck in a room with. Toby Schmitz is the man - another unwelcome visitor, who has a more calming, yet still unsettling persona. These two torment and appease Andrew in equal measure. Are they working together? Are they on different sides? Did the CIA/MI6/ The Pentagon send them? There are no answers, but one does have to wonder.

The set also comes into its own in the last ten minutes of the play. Some of the best staging I've had the pleasure to witness in ages.

For the 2018 MTC Season, this is by far the best performance to date. On point, thought provoking, unsettling and fun, it is a play for our digitally challenged times.

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