LIVE THEATRE REVIEW // ‘Two Point Oh’ (Civic Playhouse, Newcastle)

WORDS BY TARA CAMPBELL

A piece of theatre unlike anything Newcastle has ever seen before.

Knock And Run Theatre is back with another incredible piece of work directed by James Chapman. Two Point Oh (2.0), written by Jeffrey Jackson  is a play that mixes traditional theatre with multimedia in a way that will fascinate, intrigue, and at times, scare you.

“Elliot Leeds is dead – or is he? A pioneering software mogul, Leeds makes headlines one last time when his private jet plunges into the Pacific. Months later, his grief-paralysed widow Melanie discovers Elliot’s greatest creation: a virtual reality simulation of himself that he masterminded before his demise. ‘Elliot 2.0’ is a talking, thinking, virtual soul. And though merely an image on the video screens, it —  he —  can answer questions, hold conversations share memories, and perhaps even grow in intelligence and capacity. The question is, is he alive?”

The stage setup includes a variety of large screens, in which Elliot/ Elliot 2.0 (Ben Louttit) appears virtually, and is only actually on stage once throughout the play. Though not on stage, Ben Louttit performs the character live in a separate room, interacting only through screens and microphones.

Think Big Brother meets Georgia Orwell’s 1984 with a dash of Steve Jobs and you’ve got the concept of Two Point Oh. However, it’s not that simple- it’s complex and there’s no wrong or right; it’s highly representative of human behaviour.

Ben Louttit hauntingly performs the role of Elliot Leeds, with such complexity that you never truly know where you stand with this character. His instant changes from lovable to chilling in half a word using nothing but his tone of voice and facial expressions is a commendation to the skills of this actor. His performance was captivating and left the audience cautious of his presence even when he wasn’t directly in the scene.

The role of Melanie Leeds was played by Bec Kynaston. The Widow of Elliot who is stuck in the difficult situation of balancing gratitude that her husband is ‘back from the dead’ with the feeling in her gut that something is wrong.  This was Bec’s first performance in a dramatic play, and truly, not a single member of the audience would have been able to pick up on that. Her performance was a brilliant mix of emotions, reflecting the complex character of Mel- one with many emotions and moral decisions to make. I thoroughly enjoyed Bec in this role and I look forward to seeing her take on more dramatic work.

Elliot’s business partner in Paradigm, Ben Robbins, has always lived behind Elliot since the formation of the company and has a torn relationship with Elliot 2.0. Tim Turner plays this role with a caution and serious nature, with moments of comedic relief. This is an excellent delivery of such a great character, that shapes the play to be the way it is.

Claire Williams provides the well needed comic relief for this show, whilst still keeping her character stylistic and technological. Catherine Powell has been hired by Paradigm to clean up their reputation. Claire does an excellent job at delivering some of the most Australia lines I’ve ever heard in a play, having audiences in stitches with her comedic timing. She cleverly snaps from laughable moments to a determined lady who is not going to stop at anything to get what she needs. An excellent, stand out performance by Claire.

We’re all familiar with the ‘Anchor man’ role, and quite often actors aren’t given a lot to work with in such a role. Patrick Campbell flips this stereotype on its head, delivering the role of Jerry Gold with a sleazy yet straight-to-the-point nature. Patrick demands the stage with his presence, the sign of a great actor.

This was a production that chilled me to the core and made me reassess my relationship with not only others, but myself and my interactions with technology. With a brilliant original score by Bill Parry, clever lighting design by Jacob Harwood and assistant direction by Stephanie Rochet, every moment of Two Point Oh was highly sophisticated and perfectly delivered.

Without spoiling anything, all I have to say is that the ending was jaw-dropping and left me with goosebumps for a great length of time after leaving the theatre. I’ll never hear that particular song in the same way again.

It’s shows like this that make me want to shake people on the street and beg them and go to see the show. Two Point Oh is a production unlike any other, a Sci-Fi piece of theatre, that’s  though-provoking and innovative. You must see this show.

Run time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Remaining Show:

Thursday 22 April 8:00pm

Friday 23 April 8:00pm

Saturday 24 April 2:00pm & 8:00pm

https://civictheatrenewcastle.com.au/what-s-on/all-shows/two-point-oh-2-0-by-jeffrey-jackson?fbclid=IwAR2iGUuY_QaJKuqp80wUBvTAGYSv9nwPQxMXxAwiGms8Ayb0vrPOlqJXLII

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