REVIEW: No Escaping The Escape Room

Writing and performing in your own play can be a challenging endeavour, particularly when the comedic timing on the page needs to translate seamlessly to the live stage. It's with great respect that while Annie Boyle and Libby Bramble have cast themselves in their own production, they wisely handed the directorial reins to the talented Steven Hopley.

With witty one-liners and expertly timed physical comedy, this combination has paid off. As a rapid-fire 60-minute production, it moves at a lightning pace with the characters finding themselves trapped in an escape room, confronting personal differences, revealing obsessions, and making the absurd appear entirely reasonable.

Annie Boyle's deadpan delivery as Audrey, accompanied by her sister Al (played by Savannah Melvin) who has her jaw wired shut, is just one example of the many questions the audience may ask, wondering how on earth these delightfully bizarre characters were derived? Probably, unfortunately, from real life.

Kate Dolan's Hope finds no amusement in being there, wishing instead to have spent her birthday amongst ravishing Italian males in Rome, rather than some crummy escape room. Her partner, Harry the doctor (played by Harlee Timms), has unfinished business with his bestie Hank (Aaron Okey), while Steven Maresca (as Richard) has an unhealthy obsession with Libby Bramble's Raelene, an actress whom he has been stalking online and in the real world.

Yarno Rohling takes on the roles of the escape room game runner, as well as a supporting actor offering clues to aid in escape, and in yet another character, plays a final antagonist.

Typical of Hopley's direction, the action in the intimate FlightPath Theatre is well-adapted to the space, with the large cast logistically managed on set for the entirety, and practical use made of the staging, audience area, lighting, and other visual effects.

Being a comedic work loosely inspired by the great mystery works of Agatha Christie, much of the performance is delightfully melodramatic, but well-tempered by Boyle's (as mentioned) deadpan delivery, and the fact that Al can only communicate via grunts with absolutely no dialogue. This makes for both an entertaining hour and an intriguing lean-in experience for the audience, trying not only to solve the mystery but also to wonder how on earth these peculiar people might function day-to-day.

It's a fun romp with highly distinctive characters. Move quickly to catch it, as it's only playing for a short season.

Dates: May 22-25, 2024 8:00 PM, additional matinee 25 MAY 2.00 PM.

(Pre-show and drinks from 7.15 PM, The Escape Room from 8.00 PM)

Venue and Tickets: Flight Path Theatre, Marrickville

Produced by Craig Ivanoff.

(Reviewed from Row 4, end seat on the middle aisle)