THEATRE – Vale – State Theatre Company – Playhouse – 4K

Mark Saturno as Joe Vale and Tilda Cobham-Hervey asIsla share one of the play's more tender moments! Image by Chris Herzfield

Mark Saturno as Joe Vale and Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Isla share one of the play’s more tender moments! Image by Chris Herzfield

By Peter Maddern

It’s New Year’s Eve and Joe and Tina Vale (Mark Saturno and Elena Carapetis) are hosting their only daughter Isla (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) and her boyfriend Angus (James Smith) in the penthouse suite of his flagship hotel. When the Vale seniors are informed that Angus’s mother, Diana (Emma Jackson), is also coming tensions rise. Things get more difficult when the boys spar off in a one-upmanship battle over the finer points of the French language and champagne.

This is a gritty coming together of two families, one with not much and the other with it all and happy to let the former know all about it. Is drive and bastardry that delivers wealth a better thing than being good and having little – we all get just one life after all; the audience is left to ponder this as the fate of the families become increasingly intertwined as the night wears on.

Mark Saturno is excellent as the self-made, not terribly bright control freak. He projects his nastiness so well that some audience members took to hissing his more outrageous moments. Elena Carapetis also does well as the fragile, indeed broken controlled wife who just can’t move on from her past no matter what her husband may do for her. In their palatial penthouse suite the struggle they develop successfully between them seems so surreal.

Speaking of which the Mark Thompson set is as opulent a one as I can recall at a State Theatre production; the Vale’s have a suite so large it cannot be housed within the usual stage and needs to protrude out into the audience. Full marks also for the special effects that kick in when Joe gets his comeuppance near the play’s conclusion.

Writer Nicki Bloom in the program poses the questions Money? Privilege? Influence? Creation? Love? What is enough? And Vale makes you ponder what does matter even if only the male of the species is singled out here for their excesses and the women are presented as helpless victims of mis-placed patriarchy. But, the pace and the elements of the story are nicely sorted and the conclusion pulsating and shocking, made very good by a cast and crew who are all on their game.

Kryztoff Rating  4K

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