RAW: The Elephant Song – Bakehouse Theatre – Til 25th Nov – 4K

A doctor from a psychiatric institution goes missing for no known reason and so there is no great surprise that the last patient to be with him, Michael Aleen (Tim Lucas), is one person the hospital warden, Dr Greenberg (Roger Newcombe) would wish to chat with.

But surprises kick in from there as Michael, barefooted, somewhat unhinged and aged in his mid twenties engages in an intellectual contest with the world weary Greenberg with only a secretarial assistant, Miss Petersen (Lyn Pike) available to break up the verbal sparring. A tell all but at a cost.

This first Nic Billon play which premiered in 2004 only lasts an hour but the usefully confined spaces of the Bakehouse’s studio stage get you very involved from the outset. Indeed rarely has this stage been and felt as adequate as director, Peter Green, has made it for the Elephant Song.

There is shouting, laughing, a penetrating singing of an aria and the enduring battle for the first achievement of the respective desires of Greenberg and Aleen without caving into the other. It’s tense, funny, engaging and moving – just as you would wish it.

Lucas is tremendous, playing his part on various levels with an allure and anger that is most convincing. Newcombe suffices though lifting the battle to more of an engaging cut and thrust than the somewhat stone walled persona adopted may have made more of the role. Lyn Pike revels in her return to stage duties after some years away working as an actor’s agent.

Given the CVs of all the performers and the size of the studio theatre, Adelaide is somewhat blessed that this cast and show is on offer. At an hour, it is by no means a commitment for a whole night but certainly it will get you talking once you walk back out onto Angas Street.

Support it and enjoy it – The Elephant Song is a bit of a gem.

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