Nothing But The Servo – Deadset Theatre Company

Nothing But The Servo – Deadset Theatre Company

“Nothing but the Servo”, written by Zoe Muller and directed by Muller, with Alyssa D’Onofrio as the Assistant Director, is an evocative play that delves into the dynamics of small-town life and the consequences of a single foolish choice.  

The setting, a rundown town with little more than a servo, was brought to life through the clever dialogue and the actors’ performances.  The story revolves around young kids with nothing to do, leading to a game of dares with dreadful consequences.  The silence and pauses in the dialogue were particularly powerful, allowing the audience to become flies on the wall, observing the unfolding drama.  

The narrative’s exploration of past, present, and future was deftly portrayed using lighting and sound effects and having the other characters freezing in position.  The lighting design by Jayden Cowell, sound and music composed by Oscar Sarre, and tech operation by Zoe Muller were crucial in setting the scene and delineating the different time periods, maintaining consistency and clarity throughout.  Toby Vincent, who portrayed Jade, skilfully navigated these time jumps.  Such transitions are challenging, yet Vincent executed them adeptly.  Vincent’s Jade also stood out for the depth of his character portrayal, showcasing a believable mix of annoyance and care for his younger brother and demonstrating an impressive range and depth in his performance.

Overall, Oliver Medwell delivered a multi-dimensional portrayal of Gunner, a young man profoundly impacted by his time in a juvenile facility.  Jack Spanton played the role of the third mate, Jett, convincingly, embodying the character who was always present to influence events, whether directly engaged or encouraging action.  

Mahendra Baker, as the annoying younger brother Toby, delivered a performance that captured Toby’s feelings of loneliness and jealousy, as he yearned to reconnect with his older sibling.  Alyssa D’Onofrio, in addition to co-directing, played the role of small-town police officer.  Her costume and demeanour captured the essence of a cop who knows the kids yet is determined to uncover the truth of the events.  

Despite the minamalist use of props – limited to a rifle, a piggy bank, and some crates – the play maintained its immersive quality.  The absence of a set and projections required both the audience and actors to imagine their surroundings through dialogue and performances.  However, some issues arose with mimed props; for instance, they sometimes disappeared into thin air, which could have been handled better.  Nevertheless, this did not significantly detract from our belief in the action.

The direction made effective use of the space and it was evident that considerable attention was given to character development.  The play’s writing stood out for its emotional depth and realism.  By the end of the performance, there were few dry eyes in the audience, evidence of its powerful impact.  While I won’t reveal any spoilers, it suffices to say that the emotional effect was significant. 

“Nothing but the Servo” is a testament to compelling storytelling, direction, and performance.  It is a powerful reminder of the fragility of youth and the profound impact of seemingly small decisions.  

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This production was reviewed by:

Terry Mountstephen
Terry Mountstephen
Terry spent her childhood and young adult life in the theatre with the Bunyips. During that time, and since, she has been involved in every aspect of a production including performing, directing, producing and all jobs in between. Terry is also a performing arts teacher. In 2011 Terry was one of the founders of Zest Theatre Group.

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