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A Stretch of the Imagination

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Welcome to the middle of nowhere, a one-tree hill in rural Australia where Monk O’Neill lives out a hot, painful and nostalgia-filled existence. A plot summary is difficult, quite simply because there isn’t one. We watch Monk as he grunts and groans, discussing his seemingly close demise and recalling his past loves and tales.

As the air conditioning grinds to a halt at the start of the play, Monk complains of the heat and we are transported to the Australian desert with him. While incredibly effective in getting people in the right frame of mind, by the end of the long first act, the action is lost on the audience who can think of nothing but the heat.

Mark Little, best known for his role as Joe Mangel in Neighbours, is likeable, witty and vulgar in equal measure, his role made all the more realistic for the soaring heat within the theatre. Although his habit of playing up to particular audience members when a joke receives a laugh is somewhat distracting, Little holds the audience’s attention well, keeping up the energy a one-man show needs.

However, a two-hour one-man show would be deemed overly self-indulgent for the most talented and engaging of actors; and, as entertaining as Little is, the lack of a storyline makes this a challenge for the audience.

Little is clearly a man of many talents, designing the superb set of Monk’s home: a tin shack with gorgeous detailing; a tomato box made from an estate agents sign, a bike alloy weather vane and a completely useless sun umbrella.

While Little is charming and witty, Jack Hibberd’s play lacks structure and has little in the way of storyline. It doesn’t progress at all; nothing, in fact, happens.  The audience simply listen in on the long, mostly pointless ramblings of an old, slightly crazy hobo.

- Rowena Betts


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