The Histrionic

26 June 2012 | 11:25 am | Dave Drayton

Props lay garishly forgotten on a floor strewn with sawdust, soimewhere in an Austrian backwater, a cultural wasteland. Bruscon, a magnificently self-absorbed and melodramatic Billie Brown, pedantically prepares pre-show; he declares the clutter to be “gruesome kitsch”. He often throws out opinions, and Brown owns the role, bombarding the stage with a near endless barrage of words.

The voice of playwright Thomas Bernhard, wrought playfully, beautifully and unobtrusively by Tom Wright, is channelled through Bruscon as he demands attention. It would be petty, childish even, if the arguments being so forthrightly made as the drawing of curtains on this stage on a stage draws closer – creative types, the nouveau riche, those who are appalled and those who applaud his own work alike; all under a scrutiny that doesn't consider entertaining the notion of being 'thinly-veiled' – weren't so bold, grotesquely beautiful and rationally sceptic, as pertinent today as when they were written.       

Daniel Schlusser's direction captures the farce and the fury and allows it to exist in comedic absurdity, the action unfolding as chaotically as Bruscon's musings. From the crippled and nuanced minions (Josh Price, Edwina Ren, Jennifer Vuletic and Katherine Tonkin) to Bruscon, who orchestrates the madness in his desperation for the attention he so often despises, the performances are always befittingly absurd – they “do some theatre” and do it damn well.

Running until Saturday 7 July.