The Sheds

The Sheds
Written & Directed by James Cunningham. Adelaide Fringe. The Bakehouse Theatre, Adelaide. February 18-22, 2014

Set entirely within the changing room of an AFL team, The Sheds explores the relationship between Darren (Patrick Chirico), a star player who has recently come out as gay, the resentment this provokes in one of his teammates, Jimmy (Andii Mulders) and the efforts of the team captain, Liam (Ludwik Exposto) to mediate in this conflict.

Darren’s coming out journey is skipped over in the first 10 minutes, many of the potential difficulties you’d expect someone in his position would have to face up to in the real world aren’t addressed and generally his emotional journey in opening up about his sexuality comes across as way too easy.

Jimmy’s obsessive, all-consuming jealousy and eventual descent into madness is painted in very broad strokes too, frequently falling back on pop-psychology stereotypes. Liam frequently addresses the audience directly, but his commentary on the proceedings reveals little that isn’t already obvious.

The acting doesn’t help matters. Exposto is an affable stage presence, but fails to maintain a consistent accent. Chirico is emotionally sensitive, but often too quiet in his projection. Mulders is very hammy as Jimmy, taking what is a very unsubtle character on paper into the realms of caricature on stage.

Cunningham’s direction is suitably evocative of the club environment, and much of the dialogue feels authentically blokey. But overall, the play feels like a missed opportunity. Potentially fascinating issues are brought up, but much of the underlying psychology remains unexplored, and dramatic conflict inherent to the situation rushed through.

Benjamin Orchard

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