Travels With JB

Travels With JB

Travel news and reviews

There are many ways to tell of the toxic breakup of a relationship. The Platypus is one of the more unusual.

Rebecca Bower and John Leary star in the Platypus playing at Theatre Works.*

The 100-minute play, playing at Theatre Works, tells of the breakdown of the marriage of Richard (John Leary) and Jessica (Rebecca Bower). However, it’s not your traditional type of story-telling.

As the play’s writer and director (and well-known Australian actor) Francis Greenslade explains, he didn’t want to write a naturalistic play about the disintegration of a relationship.

“I wanted to see if I could tell the story in a different way but still make it truthful,” he said.

Rebecca Bower and John Leary.*

“When you’re at home, sitting around in your underwear eating peanut butter from the jar, or whatever floats your boat, you are just about as normal and natural as you will ever be.

“But when you leave the house and meet someone else, (your boss whom you dislike, a very old friend, a teenager serving you at the bottle shop, etc) you become a different person.

“You put on a different persona. I wanted to represent that theatrically. So, in The Platypus, when one of the two leave the house and meets someone else, the scene is in a different theatrical genre.

Rebecca Bower and John Leary

“There’s a scene in Shakespearean verse, one in an Oscar Wilde style and even a music theatre take off. So while the story is a very familiar one, the way it’s told is not. That’s the interest for me – keeping it surprising and interesting while not losing the emotional truth.”

As a result of Greenslade’s desire, Leary and Bower are called on to play several different characters including Richard and Jessica’s new love interests and a family court official.

The transformation from one character to another occurs through a simple change of clothes and/or their words, accents and actions.

John Leary

Both are given the chance to show their abilities in presenting Shakespeare, Leary showcases his skills as a ventriloquist while Bower shows her musical abilities.

While the title may suggest the play has some connection to an actual platypus (there are a couple of mentions in relation to zoo visits) it would seem the creature itself is a good summary of Greenslade’s philosophy.  As the play’s literature states: “The Platypus is a strange creature. It’s composed of odds and ends, as though evolution got tired one afternoon and stopped paying attention to what it was doing. It seems wrong. Strangely put together. A curiosity.”

The Platypus is playing at Theatre Works until July 6.  Visit the Theatre Works website for more information and tickets.

*Photo credit: Mark Gambino


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