Adelaide Fringe 2016
A wickedly good two-handed thriller.
Telemarketers…we’ve all experienced them. You know the ones; they call you at the most inconvenient time. So when the rope is literally around Guy’s neck, is it a call that saves his life? Or one that he should probably avoid?
Firstly, it’s great to find theatre at The Wheaty! It’s a fun pub that is very welcoming and has a strong community spirit. As such, I wasn’t surprised to find a show like Lifeline there: something that tests the limits of privacy needs a supportive crowd.
Lifeline is a very short (40 minute) two-handler play written by Nat Texler and directed by Eric Strauts, who is also responsible for the lighting, sound and set design. The play is about the transparency of our private information, easily accessible by a click of a button, a Google search and a lie or two. Lifeline asks us to question just how private we think our lives are in this web-centered world we live in and to consider who really is on the other end of a seemingly innocent, albeit annoying, telemarketing call.
The set is a perfectly uninteresting lounge room, with nothing more that a sofa, small table and a few odds and ends. Then you look up and see the noose hanging from the rafters and you’re suddenly fully aware of the darkness that’s about to unfold.
Guy’s (James Whitrow) suicidal plans are oddly interrupted by a call from telemarketer Lewis (Wesley van Gelderen), who quickly reveals that he has access to Guy’s private information and internet activity. Lewis succeeds in toying with Guy’s moral compass by manipulating this shattered man into carrying out a series of evil tasks, which leaves Guy in a far worse position than when he started.
Performing a two-handler of this nature is no easy task and Whitrow and Van Gelderen tackle the dark script well. It is clear that Whitrow throws himself into his character: his energy, tension and sense of urgency is felt by the audience. Van Gelderen is strong too. He does well to play a very charismatic and disturbing character while reeking of ‘shady telemarketer’.
Lifeline could benefit from being a littler longer as there isn’t really enough time to see the characters develop. Some character background and showing diverse sides to both characters would have been beneficial for the audience to connect on a deeper level with them. For example, while I appreciate Van Gelderen’s character, I felt he needed to at times show a sense of anger, panic or desperation towards Guy, and Whitrow needed time to deliver a genuine (longer) reaction to some of the more horrid tasks Lewis forced him to do. The script didn’t really allow for this and the performance felt a bit rushed.
However, the script is very edgy as it scarily highlights just how non-secure our information can be and how easy it is for someone to hack into our lives. So if you are feeling like you want to be thrown into a world of vulnerability and chaos, then give Lifeline a go!