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dB Magazine
Worlds End
The Bakehouse Theatre, Adelaide, Australia
15 - 30 May 2009
 

Many a song has been written about how hard a relationship breaking up is (I write this listening to one of them on my ipod.) Hamlet throwing off of Ophelia in Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' is probably the most savage, torrid rejection of love ever written but there's not much theatrical work about that covers the experience as forensically and with such start directness and compassion as English playwright Paul Sellar's 'Worlds End' .

Kat (Jessica Barnden) has broken up with Ben (Mark Fantasia) without saying much - nothing actually - and is now suddenly back in Ben's flat to collect her stuff and he hasn't had the decency to stay away while she gathers her things. Ben, wounded by what he sees as an unseemly and inexplicable break wants to know why, and who's replaced him... And so much more.

Director Joh Hartog's production in the wonderfully intimate deep focus Studio Theatre of The Bakehouse might be very naturalistic but utilises the most simple symbolic act to both signify and reinforce love disintegrating before our eyes - the slow removal of the beloved one's belongings. Designer Tammy Boden's set uses the deep stage brilliantly by setting up an upstage wall featuring two floor to mid height bookshelves stacked with books and bric a brac, and a painting. Cardboard boxes litter the floor. A single settee and chair with side table and lava lamp complete the scene. Piece by piece, quite literally, Kat leaves Ben as he banters with her, at her, in an attempt to fend off the inevitable and simultaneously, find out why his world is ending.

Fantasia's Ben is a wistful, fast talking heart felt type. Barnden's Kat is a gentle but strong and warm hearted girl torn between her love for Ben in her still, and her realisation that it wasn't what it seemed. Both actors carefully, beautifully build the disjunct between how each one sees their relationship. It's a heart-breaking thing to watch but not as nearly as fascinating as the impact of the visit from Kat's friend Thea (Alice Darling) and new boyfriend Josh (Matthew Crook), there to help Kat move, has on the dynamic of their situation.

It is through these characters that Sellar's play diverts from a standard love lost tear jerker into a thoughtful look at what love is, what 'significant other' means. Is it a security blanket or mutually supportive union between people as they grow? Thea's overpowering, smart as personality revels in Ben's demise. Josh seems to be the up to the minute nice guy that Kat needs. In Thea and Josh, Sellar offers the slippery downside to how the world of one person's heart can end.

'Worlds End' is a beautiful experience despite the painful subject matter. The cast are simply brilliant in their caring, gutsy, poignant charcterisations that speak to all of us and give an enlightened perspective on one of life's unavoidable rites of passage.

David O'Brien