It is indeed pleasing to see this young company endeavouring to expand their repertoire from comedy to something that appeals to the mind and intellect and stretches the talents of the Company.
The Prisoner’s Dilemma is such a play and Venture Theatre Company make a good fist of a play that comes straight out of left field. Brief though it is, The Prisoner’s Dilemma is not a play for the faint -hearted.
On a minimalist stage setting (designed by Luke Wagner) we are introduced to five characters who are it seems, forced by a domineering guard (Shelley Carman) into what at first appears to be a prison. They have in fact, suddenly become prisoners of their own failures. However, as the action passes, we become aware that these characters are not as they at first seem to be. First Sam (David Giles), to all intents a drug- taking, weed smoking, bragging alcoholic who says that he has spent most of his life in prison. And loves telling people of this.Yet Judy (Kristy Mundy), who we at first take to be a money hungry super rich investor with no care for others, saves Sam’s life.
Candice (Lorren Gartland) is the pampered “rich bitch” who tells us she spends her days shopping and”… is good at it…” yet we later discover that after talking to Sam she has feelings for others after all. Johnny (Luke Wagner) seems to be running from his wife and responsibilities, yet loves her despite his protestations to the contrary.
That leaves Barney (Kyle Hopgood) the filthy, smelly squatter who tells the others that he likes “the prison” because it provides a roof over his head. He secretly tells Judy that he knows he has “survived” when he is alive at the start of the day and can still see the sun setting at the end of that day. We discover later, that Barney has set up this experiment many times before with many other people to discover and remedy problems with identities, and he is in fact, a billionaire.
These observations of a complex set of human experiences are simple indeed. But the more important observation this critic can make concerns the direction by Co -Directors Lucy Marshallsay and Elizabeth De Caux. They have brought their actors together wonderfully well into an excellent ensemble. There really are no stand out performances,
instead all members of this hardworking cast must stand in the limelight together with Ms Marshallsay and De Caux, for their excellent work.
They are:Shelley Carman, Kristy Mundy, Lorren Gartland, David Giles, Kyle Hopgood, and Luke Wagner.
This production desperately needed a supportive audience of more than the 18 brave souls who fronted up on opening night.