J-STUDIOS: Life Around the Coffee Table is a true coming of age meets the age itself story. For anyone who has been or is currently in their 20's, the show will present a smorgasbord of humour that you will no doubt connect with.
Life Around the Coffee Table is a true coming of age meets the age itself story. For anyone who has been or is currently in their 20's, the show will present a smorgasbord of humour that you will no doubt connect with. From the unnatural bond between roommates who for no sane reason at all understand the micro universe that is your share house, to the unrequited attractions that we face with love by location at play. The show centres around three characters Chloe, Daniel and Ryan. Chloe is the whingey girl who has boy troubles, work troubles, fashion and food troubles, if there's something wrong then she'll have a bar of it. Daniel is the Buffy obsessed failing university student who needs to define himself before he can let others. Then there's Ryan the 'lonely boy' of the pack who doesn't seem to fit anywhere, he's the perfect anti-hero in that there isn't anything in particular that's special about him, he's normal, a quality I love to see in a character. Who said you have to be different to be special right?
The show began with what could be viewed as a prologue, an establishment of friendship between the three characters, as they sat drinking, chatting and then eventually passing out before a black out which then signalled the start of the show. By no means a conventional start to a production, but quite effective in that the audience didn't need to hear a back story and could relax and enjoy the show. Structured like three mini productions within the one, we got to see each character's perception of the world before they would move back into a supporting role for the next characters journey. Intertwined within the story was the wonderfully composed and performed music of Claire Healy who was somewhat narrating the show bringing some form of cohesion to the story. This mix of dialogue with music presented a very fortunate blend with few if any variations between the worlds.
Life Around the Coffee Table is a completely accessible show for anyone who loves pop culture and doesn't like to over think life. That is not to say it is a simple show, but a show that respects it's audience enough not to spell everything out for them. We all know who Pinky and the Brain is I'm sure. It's fluid language and varied levels of in jokes meant that as an audience member you often felt included in what were very private moments. What was notable was their use of love as a catalyst and not as a feature for storytelling, something not usually seen in shows.
It would be hard to find a stand out performance in the production as this was without a doubt an ensemble show. Which would also include their tasteful lighting design by Colleen Jeffrey with the switching off of a lamp signifying the end. Stephanie Lillis, Scott Jackson, Ryan Roestenburg and Claire Healy should be congratulated on a genuine ensemble feel with legitimate chemistry on stage.
With only a week left in their season it is highly recommended that you get along to see what real New Australian work is like. With a forgivable token football montage there is thankfully no kangaroo or dingo references but quality laugh at yourself humour with a touch of healthy angst. Pay careful attention to the music for hidden subtext and listen out for 'Don't Use Me For Parts' a cleverly written song which summaries what we all think, but fear to say out loud.
Life Around the Coffee Table
Directed by Jessica Chapman
Venue: J Studios
100 Barkly St, Fitzroy North
Bookings: 0457 048 103 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Coffee Table".
Dates: Wednesday 26 May - Saturday 5 June
Tickets: $20 Full, $15 Concession
Time: Wednesday - Saturday 8pm, with both Saturday Matinees 2pm