Savage in Limbo

Savage in Limbo
By John Patrick Shanley. Directed by Gabriella Rose-Carter. Q44 Theatre, Level One 550 Swan St, Richmond (Vic). August 18th-Sept 6th, 2015

Question: How far can Q44 continue to raise the bar at an exponential rate. Though small in stature and financial support, this little company is already the equal of ANY other theatre company in Melbourne, and infinitely superior to most.

The driving force is director (and head of her own drama school) Gabriella Rose-Carter, whose commitment and passion elicits astonishing performances from her actors. It helps to have a play by John Patrick Shanley, arguably America’s best contemporary playwright (terrific production of Doubt finished last week. One could describe Savage in Limbo as the dark side of the TV sitcom “Friends”. The three women are all 32, and all went to school together, but their days of discovery, moving forward in life, appear to be over. They’re stuck.

Denise Savage is a 32-year-old virgin who yearns for connection, but doesn’t know how. Linda can only define herself but how much she is sexually desired and already has three kids as a result, but no true relationship. April is a drunk, hopelessly waiting for someone to give her life purpose. Tony is…well…a bit thick, but an Italian Stallion who is just discovering that women have brains…but surely only the ugly ones? Murk runs the bar “Scales” …where if you’re not drinking, you’re not welcome … and he wants everything to stay exactly as it is, including April’s dependence on him.

Five superb actors breathe life into these characters, and the setting of the bar, complete with pool table, with the audience sitting at tables and on an old couch.

Kostas Ilias (Murk) is totally credible as the Bar owner, dour and cynical, but with genuine feelings for April, whom Andrea McCannon makes into a heart-breaking loser on every level; it’s a fine performance. Sarah Nicolazzo (Linda) is fabulous as the sexpot who is shattered that she might be replaced by “Ugly” women. Her vulnerability and lack of self worth are palpable, and her Bronx accent is the most impressive I have ever heard. Anthony Scundi (Tony) is making quantum leaps as an actor and really fires in this role. It’s exciting watching an actor develop in this way and I look forward to his next performance. But the performance of the play is without question Samantha Mesh as Denise the Virgin. She lays her emotions bare and rips our hearts out. I wasn’t the only one in the audience crying as her eyes filled with tears. This is what acting is truly about…being brave and embracing truth and pain. She is simply stunning.

Rebecca Fortuna’s lighting design works a treat; like everything else in this production it is driven by the pursuit of excellence. The direction is simply perfect.

I can’t speak highly enough of this little company, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fabulous supper that the amazing Lilly Jones provided for us all.

Q44 deserves every success….but most of all it deserves every performance to be full, that’s how good it is.

Coral Drouyn


Photographer: Fiona Hamilton

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