Review: Four Places
Joel Drake Johnson’s Four Places is so very, very good. Until recently I knew nothing of the prolific Chicago playwright, a self-described “lonely gay kid” who made friends doing school plays and took it from there. He wrote this potent four-hander back in 2006. It was regarded as a Pulitzer contender and it’s easy to see why.
You could probably wallpaper the Taj Mahal with American play scripts that dissect family dysfunction. They go all the way back to Eugene O’Neill’s, A Long Day’s Journey into Night. What makes Johnson’s play so remarkable, coming so many years after O’Neill, is that it doesn’t feel stale. It is a meticulously structured work that offers an emotional experience being both funny and absolutely crushing at the same time. It also appears to be written by a man not allergic to subtlety.
The story happens in real time. A car, a restaurant bar, a table in the same restaurant set for three and the ladies’ toilet, are the four places where the action unfolds.
Gallery: Four Places
This production beautifully captures the family dynamic and much of it comes down to the unfailing insight of director Nicholas Hope. He expertly balances the comedic elements of the script with the often dark, bitter exchanges between the characters that seem to suck the air out of the small Tap Gallery theatre. Hope’s thoughtful approach also elicits delicately nuanced performances from his cast. Killas, Stephens Lee, Waters and Williams are all terrific.
Tom Bannerman has ingeniously designed and constructed Sydney’s smallest revolve and a laudable atmospheric contribution is made by lighting designer Rachel Smith and sound designer Peter Neville.
Go see it.
[Images] Four Places production shots. Photos: Richard Farland
Four Places plays at The Tap Gallery Until August 10. Bookings: www.outhousetheatre.org