Theatre Tours International Incorporating Guy Masterson Productions present six shows at this years Fringe Festival of which Reasonable Doubt is the first I am getting to see. What first attracted me to anything associated with Guy Masterson I just can't remember but I do know anything he is vaguely associated with is Quality and that by going to see it you will be viewing a superb show.
In Reasonable Doubt we meet Anna (Emma Jackson) and Mitchell (Peter Phelps) having met two years ago as jury members in a murder trial, which ended with no majority decision. Hearing news of a retrial Anna plans a reunion of all the original jurors who had spent time together in a downtown hotel never dreaming she would end up back in, all be it one of the plushest, a hotel room in Sydney with Mitchell. She has had an obsession with him since their first day in the courtroom and despite her guilty vote and his not guilty they seemed to form some sacred link. We hear about the actions and reactions caused by their first meeting "justice, truth guilt, honour and courage must now be faced by both of them". Has this unspoken love between them shaped their lives in such a way the possible consequences could destroy them?
Every successful theatrical production has certain requirements, a well-written script, sympathetic yet exacting direction and talented performers. Sets lighting, props, sound technicians etc are also important but without the basic backbones the rest is wasted.
Written by Susie Miller this piece of theatre was so fascinating I was almost straining every sense incase I missed the slightest nuance. Guy's directions so natural paying attention to the tiniest detail it would seem the two superb performers are not acting but reliving some hours of their own lives over each day.
Finally this superb piece of theatre left me wanting to stand up at the end and scream "No you can't leave it there!" but actually an alternative ending just wouldn't be as effective. (Shelia Jack (one4review.com 05/08/08)
THE set says it all: a double bed filled with those pointless silk cushions that only hotels have, a mini-bar and a telephone. You can smell her perfume over-sprayed in nervous anticipation as she inspects the mini-bar and admires the lilies, while he oozes worldliness and soon-to be-slaked lust. Australian actors Peter Phelps and Emma Jackson create an incredible almost unbearable sexual tension between the classic older pent-up predator and naive young beautician. But is she so naive? Australian playwright, Suzie Miller, who is also a civil rights lawyer, explores the subject of truth and how it shifts depending on perspective, through the device of a couple who met while serving on a jury. They meet two years later to rekindle their passion - but a lot has happened in two years. As the evening progresses, the audience itself becomes a jury; trying to decipher what did happen between the lovers two years ago and to what extent they are telling the truth now. Urgent and compelling, you will be emotionally exhilarated from start to finish. (Nell Nelson (Edinburgh Evening News - 08/08/08)
Two people, a man and a woman, luggage-less, enter a hotel room. The woman is delighted at the quality on display, the man ,minimal and silent. What unfolds is a story with twists and turns, and a taughtness that holds tightly to the audience's attention.
This two-hander, written by Suzie Miller, starring Peter Phelps and Emma Jackson, is set in a hotel room, at the time of a retrial for murder, a stone's throw from the Sydney Opera House. The two have met together after a reunion of jury members at a trial where he was convinced there was no murder and she, inspired by his fervour in favour of reasonable doubt, still holds to the guilt of the accused. This is the neat backdrop to a personal narrative that explores the nature of truth, reality and the doubt we have of our own behaviour towards each other. What is really true in the sphere of human relationships?
Phelps and Jackson turn in faultless performances - their interplay creates just the right moments of comedy and intensity set at a pace and level that allows the tension of the play to build and the emotions underneath to bloom just at the right moment as the narrative progresses.
The set of the hotel in this one-location piece is perfect for the "walls closing in" feel of a story which is based on a series of revelations as the "truth" of their stories finally comes out. Guilt, justification and understanding are at the heart of this emotional journey. It's a gripping story.I won't give any of it away.
The writing has a heavy quality to it. There are so many words spoken that, too often, the actors are working overtime to deliver the script. There's too much exposition and revelation, almost too much to take in sometimes. This is what "heaviness" in a play is: it is when the script - the sheer volume of words and amount of textual content forces itself through the mouths of the cast. Less would be more in this case, but it is a testament to skilled direction and the quality of the acting, that the play still manages to engage and draw the attention in right to the very end of the play. The story itself is so well plotted that it still manages to carry the hour and a quarter. This is top-notch acting, in a sharply directed play well worth seeing. (Paul Levy (fringereview.com - 10/08/08)
Complex exploration - (15/08/08) reviewer: Sean Davis, USA
Just before a re-trial verdict is to be announced, two former jurors meet in a hotel room to explore their differing views of the case and their own relationship. This onion-layered play does a masterful job of exploring how new facts can change the perceptions of events. Only a short, unconvincing scene on the bed taints the superb acting. This ranks 7th of the 83 shows I have seen so far. I expect to see more than one hundred by the end of the Fringe. Rankings and similarly short reviews of all the shows I have seen can be found at http://www.cal.net/~ssdavis
Strong and powerful - (09/08/08) reviewer: Bobby Stodel, United Kingdom
This was a fantastic piece of drama and a wonderful way to start the day. We have seen many shows and this is one of the best. A very strong story is brought to life by passionate actors. Don't miss it.
Go and see this! - (05/08/08) reviewer: Margaret, United Kingdom
If your fed up watching rubbish on the fringe and would like to see what real theatre, full of suspense, with a great story line,, believable characters and professional production and direction can do then get to this play.ignore the fact that it starts at 10.45 am. It's a real treat!