August 13, 2013
Motel has a great concept for stage – one dodgy motel room and a shifting kaleidoscope of characters. In essence, it’s a collection of one-act plays loosely tied together by a crotchety old innkeeper (played by stage veteran Ken Blackburn). The temporary inhabitants of the room open windows on their inner worlds, giving New Zealand playwright April Phillips the chance to touch on life’s major plot points – infertility, illness, infidelity. The characters are good company and Philips has us immediately interested in each of their predicaments but too often the scenes drag and it’s obvious where they are heading long before Blackburn enters with his scene-punctuating quip and the lights fade to black. The actors labour under staid direction on the limited daggy 2-star motel set.
Despite the restrictions, some do a captivating job. Renee Sheridan simmers in the opening scene as a frustrated wife. Liesha Ward Knox is a wonderfully complex mistress circumnavigating the selfish tramp stereotype and Cameron Rhodes evokes sympathy as a fast-talking salesman. Phillips has a canny grasp on the complexity of relationships, with a particular gift for exploring manipulative women, but we don’t need every detail spelt out. Motel would benefit from a snappy edit and the actors given a bit more space to inhabit the characters without constant chatter.
Until August 24