Set within the living room of Saskia’s (Corinne Furlong) inner-western Sydney apartment, Thirty-Three follows one night in the lives of a group of early-30s friends. The celebration starts immediately on the wrong foot, with the return of Saskia’s estranged brother Joshua (Doug Hansell). As her friends begin to filter in, the bubbling concerns within each of their lives start to spill, aided by drinking, music, and drugs.
The danger with tackling these kinds of subjects is that they often are represented in a really diffuse, detached manner, a weirdly distorted “young person cool” quality that seems to be trendy – all about style, not substance. It’s that kind of annoyingly overblown millennial chatter, a rubbish Skins tribute, out of control. But not so with this play. Thirty-Three avoids this fallacy entirely; each character is relatable, messy. Though some are immediately warmer than others, the cast are generally extremely likeable, infusing each of their characters with a recognisably flawed charm. These characters are delicate manifestations of people you know.
Their friendships, romances, families are all troubled in different ways, but never to the point of including tick-box relationship drama hallmarks – those kinds of themes primed to shock.
Saskia is the slowest to reveal, and Corinne Furlong does a lovely job of such a reserved character. Conversely, the overwhelming Lachlan (Ben Dalton) is pleasingly recognisable as the friend everyone knows is just a bit rubbish. Christopher Birks (Tim) and Amy Domenica (Maya) have a fraught relationship that is unpicked with intelligence, and Birks is to be thoroughly commended for his excellent Australian accent – as a native, I was fooled.
Shannon Steele (Lily) brings brightness from the moment she appears, even though she’s in distress, and Doug Hansell is at his best when he breaks through his stoic exterior as Joshua. It all makes for a really great kind of mess – the kind of dinner party that I’ve certainly attended – raw and human.
The only cringe moment is the song (really, it has to be shorter), but otherwise, Thirty-Three manages to be relatively cringe-free – something not often achieved in productions about young people at parties. The token problems of millennials in wider society are placed to the side in favour of the intricate details of a few specific lives.
As a Sydney native myself, I was really unsure how much I’d identify with this play – how representative it would feel. But with ‘Stanmore maccas’ as a reference, I can only reassure you: the details are entirely accurate. Perhaps someone unfamiliar with Sydney would not have as much enjoyment as I did, though I felt there were still more than enough interesting, nuanced interactions to sustain without ‘getting’ the Aussies in-jokes. Writers Michael Booth and Alistair Powning have created a sensitive, relatable story, intertwined minutiae making much of simple life experiences, and their profound effect on the psyche. Kai Raisbeck has directed an excellent London debut.
Despite a slightly stilted start, Thirty-Three thaws quickly into a thoroughly enjoyable production. It’s funny, friendly and messy as all hell. I can only hope that my own thirty-third birthday isn’t quite so turbulent…
Review by Christina Care Calgaro
Saskia is a teacher living in inner western Sydney and by all accounts her life appears to be going well; a career she loves, friends she adores and the freedom to enjoy it. To celebrate her 33rd birthday, she invites a handful of her closest friends into her Sydney terrace for an evening of food, music and laughter. But when her estranged little brother mysteriously shows up, the proceedings take on a decidedly different turn, and a friendly evening ignites into a wild night of booze, games, and shocking revelations.
Thirty-Three boasts an acclaimed Australian cast and creative team and promises and evening featuring live music and free form dancing in the intimate confines of the Leicester Square Lounge Theatre. This is a unique, immersive and exhilarating theatrical experience not to be missed.
Red Scarf Theatre are a London based Australian theatre company championing new work.
CAST: Christopher Birks, Ben Dalton, Amy Domenica, Corinne Furlong, Doug Hansell, Shannon Steele
DIRECTOR: Kai Raisbeck
SET / COSTUME DESIGN: Charlotte Henery
Running Time 80mins
Age Restriction 16+
9 Jun — 24 June 2017