Belt Up Theatre’s The Boy James.
The Boy James, thoughts by Jane Durbridge
We start this adventure on the Ground Floor of AC Arts where (most of us) are ushered into an small, rickety, airless lift (or maybe it wasn’t like that..my claustrophobic self took the stairs up 3 flights).
We’re then invited into the pajama clad Lewis/Charles world…..a lavish comfortable living room – a welcome change from dodgy fringe seats.
It’s all feeling very comfortable, (apart from having to die loudly in a double homicide & then needing to blow a raspberry on a complete stranger), but when we finish our audience games we open our eyes to the arrival of James – angry, hurt and frustrated as he tries to pack up and leave Charles.
We’re beginning to understand James frustration when The Girl arrives – frail and pale and seemingly representing innocence. We’re lulled into a false sense of security with her character, she’s all sweetness in a white nightgown, but she’s on a path of destruction.
The naive Charles is initially confronted by her immorality, and then accosted by her brutality…and then she leaves as mysteriously as she appeared.
This brutality shakes the audience up – we’re taken from a quaint quirky place to one a little more uncomfortable. James reenters the story, and unaware of what has just occurred is now able to physically escape. He explains why he must leave in a letter (but as Charles can’t read this is left to an audience member).
In shock and unable to communicate, Charles is left in a comatose fetal position, wrapped about a table leg.
It’s in this conclusion that we’re invited to leave the Tiny Room. We file out quietly with the characters always in their roles, never acknowledging the work of the actors.
I’m not sure if the people we saw in that room were real or imaginary characters in the Lewis/Charles world…perhaps they were a bit of both…and this enabled the play to push a range of feelings around the room and, even when we didn’t like what was happening, keep us enthralled.
Tiny Lounge, Adelaide College of the Arts (AC Arts, TAFE), 39 Light Square, Adelaide to 18th March 2012