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Radio Adelaide
Worlds End
The Bakehouse Theatre, Adelaide, Australia
15 May 2009

“Your girlfriend’s left you? Well it’s not the end of the world.” But it is for Ben the anti-hero in Paul Sellar’s play Worlds End as his girlfriend Kat is trying to move her things out of Ben’s flat after a two year relationship. Ben had promised to be out but he breaks that promise and enables the writer and Accidental Productions company to explore the awkward situation at the Bakehouse Theatre’s new space The Studio under Joh Hartog’s direction. The intimate size fits this exploration well and the opening night audience took to it enthusiastically.

To put it bluntly Ben is a pretentious, idle and self-obsessed bastard and Mark Fantasia portrays Ben in all his glory. Jessica Barnden gives us a caring Kat who is aware that she has grown in the last two years while Ben is incapable of growth. Kat knows that their relationship will become toxic for both and is strong enough to break it. Barnden handles Kat’s highly emotive speeches with a great deal of sensitivity, strength and empathy, especially at the end.

Alice Darling is Thea, Kat’s friend hated by Ben, probably because he sees a lot of himself in her. Thea is incapable of sustaining a relationship and is even strongly tempted by Ben’s advances as they pack up. Unfortunately Darling’s performance is physically stiff and emotionally unconvincing.

Mathew Crook is Josh, potentially a new man in Kat’s life. Crook gives Josh a good down-to-earth presence that not only evens out the emotional troughs and peaks of the other characters but provides a real shock when Josh finally reacts to Ben’s selfishly cruel behaviour.

I found Hartog’s direction heavy handed and would have liked to see the funny moments given more weight. Tammy Boden’s design is convincing and makes it easy to believe that we are flies on a wall of a poky flat as all the humanity is stripped from it; for Kat was the homemaker in the old relationship and now she is the initiator of a new life for both her and Ben. The play’s title is after all Worlds End in the plural and not the possessive. The end of the relationship is the end of two worlds and is much easier to accept than if it were the end of one world set up and maintained by both partners.

In all Worlds End is a worthwhile seventy minute experience of other people’s believable emotions. So much easier than having to cope with one’s own.

Myk Mykyta