Superb … Andrew McFarlane. Photo: Brett Boardman
DREAMS IN WHITE
Griffin Theatre, February 14, until March 23
MICHAEL DEVINE likes his grapefruit with sugar. ''The perfect balance of sweet and sour,'' he says, in the course of two very different conversations. In Duncan Graham's Dreams in White, we come to see Devine's private life encompasses similarly divergent tastes.
To most people who know him, Devine (Andrew McFarlane) is a successful Sydney real-estate salesman: well off, respected, happily married. But to suburban battlers Paula and Gary (Steve Rodgers and Mandy McElhinney), he's Ray Wimple, a well-dressed, up-for-it guy contacted via the personals columns of a swingers magazine.
Graham cleaves close to the template of a real and recent story, that of Melbourne businessman Herman Rockefeller, whose life came to a sordid end. Prior knowledge of its details is not important, though with them, this drama of sex and class tourism takes on the air of a modern morality tale.
Events are related via a shuffled deck of tension-filled scenes with three actors sliding between roles. Identity seems a multi-faceted thing.
Lucy Bell plays Devine's wife Anne, who we meet as she pleads for information regarding her husband's whereabouts. She also plays Julia, an unhappily married doctor to whom Devine is selling an apartment.
Rodgers doubles as Julia's partner David, unemployed and struggling to maintain self worth. As well as the recovering alcoholic Paula, McElhinney plays a psychiatrist helping Anne deal with her husband's secret life and death.
Tanya Goldberg's production is expertly framed and coolly managed. Her cast changes gear in a heartbeat, to a chilling score and adroit lighting.
Bell portrays the confusion and resentment in Anne with clarity, likewise Sara West as Devine's teenage daughter Amy. McElhinney brings two very different women to sympathetic life and Rodgers excels in demonstrations of raw hurt and explosive temper.
McFarlane is superb, running the gamut from tender to vile as the pieces of a disturbing, entertaining puzzle slide into place.