Photography Leah McGirr
|How many times have you wondered about the people you sit next to on the bus? Who are they? Where are they going and why? While for the most part catching public transport is an uncomfortable experience that sees us squeezed into a tin can and forced to rub armpits with strangers, it also offers surprising encounters which stimulate our imagination. It was with precisely this in mind that Stories From The 428 – a group of new short plays based on eight playwrights’ experiences of travelling the 428 bus route from Circular Quay to Canterbury – was conceived. Thanks to the passionate efforts of creative director Augusta Supple, who has marshalled the whole thing together, what we get is a lively snapshot of the inner worlds of commuters.Week one of this two-week program offers a myriad of movable delights that are brought to the stage by directors including Zoe Carides, Glenn Hazeldine, Ian Zammit andSupple herself. While the evening gets off to a slightly slow start the audience is well and truly on board by the time we reach the third stop, a little vignette titled You Are Here#1 from playwright Alison Rooke. Thanks to the affable charms of actor Felix Gentle, who plays a young uni student, Ben, who’s studying to become a mortician, we get a funny, touching and at times tender tale about the unrequited yearnings he has for a fellow traveller, Lily (Bridgette Sneddon). While the two never speak, Ben’s rich internal dialogue is playfully externalised as a one-way conversation that works effectively to both engage and entertain in equal measure. Towards the end of the night we revisit these characters from the reverse perspective in You Are Here#2, but the at times sombre sequel is less successful than it’s predecessor.Playlist, a monologue written by Sime Knezevic and featuring some hilarious dancing by Stephen Peacocke as a music-loving ipod addict reveals the soundtrack to a life; while Fizzy Brown Water (written by Phil Spencer), Sleight of Hand (Brooke Robinson) and An Advertiser’s Dream (also by Robinson) give us glimpses of the slightly deranged folk that we frequently move seats to avoid while commuting.
The masterpiece of the night is Vanessa Bates’ Confetti#1 which weaves together elements of observation and nostalgia into a potent mix that truly transports us. Featuring the fine acting talents of Anna Lise Phillips and comedy stylings of Robert Jago, this gem of a play is worth the price of admission alone.
While some of the other pieces on the night have small failings, all in all it’s an intriguing collection of work that should be welcomed and applauded for its originality and scope. So climb aboard the 428 if you’re after a riveting ride with plenty of interesting pit stops along the way!
Stories from the 428
Venue: Sidetrack Theatre | 142 Addison Road, Marrickville, NSW
This review first appeared on Australian Stage March 2010