Thirty Three

Saska (Corinne Furlong) decides to hold what which she hopes will be a cosy dinner party for a select group of her closest friends. It goes wrong from the outset with the unexpected arrival of her estranged brother, Josh (Doug Hansell). He is followed to the event by the various guests who bring social baggage rather than presents and the event descends into cocaine-fuelled chaos aided by an excess of alcohol.

Thirty Three captures the party that everyone dreads but also contrives just too many scenarios.

It's an evening of tension and awkward situations from the moment Josh arrives. He and his sister have much to go over and get over, not least the early death of their mother, the burden it imposed upon Sas and the ensuing dysfunctional relationship with the now deceased father whose funeral Josh did not attend. Estate agent Maya (Amy Domenica) arrives next. She wants to make sure that if her husband Tim (Christopher Birks), from whom she is vaguely split up, should ask about the weekends she was away from home then Sas will vouch for her and say that she was staying in her spare room. Of course he does ask and through repeated interjections and by not letting the issue go the whole cover-up finally collapses. Apart from her infidelity they have other other issues over having children in a marriage which is on its way out.

Next into the fray comes Lily (Shannon Steele). As seemingly no one in this play can be without multiple issues, she announces that she has just split up from her girlfriend. This event and her sexuality in general are explored in several discussions. Tim finally arrives with his egotistical drinking mate Lachlan (Ben Dalton). They are both well oiled and waste no time in adding to their inebriation by starting on the shots of grenadine, tequila, Jägermeister and Red Bull; a mix almost as lethal as the guest list.

The compact set by Charlotte Henery fits snugly into the confines of the performance floor and with the audience on three sides there is a sense of intimacy verging on the claustrophobic. The area becomes the sitting room for pre and post dinner drinks and conversation: the formal dinner is marked by a blackout. Kai Raisbeck successfully directs the cast around the limited space available.

Written by Michael Booth & Alistair Powning the play suffers from a surfeit of storylines. Any one or two would be sufficient to construct a social drama, but here the plethora is overwhelming. As a result it is the intensity of the multiple disasters that is paramount, as they somewhat tediously build up, rather than the exploration of the issues. There is nothing new here and neither are there profound insights. Some of the lines, while conversational, sound banal and clichéd and then there is the birthday gift of a song with guitar accompaniment that probably proved unwelcome. Thirty Three captures the party that everyone dreads but also contrives just too many scenarios.

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The Blurb

Critically acclaimed new Australian play Thirty Three makes it’s UK debut at the Leicester Square Theatre. Audiences are immersed into the heart of a birthday party that spirals out of control in this intense piece of new writing at the Leicester Square theatre.

Saskia is a teacher living in inner western Sydney and by all accounts her life appears to be going well; a career she loves, friends she adores and the freedom to enjoy it. To celebrate her 33rd birthday, she invites a handful of her closest friends into her Sydney terrace for an evening of food, music and laughter. But when her estranged little brother mysteriously shows up, the proceedings take on a decidedly different turn, and a friendly evening ignites into a wild night of booze, games, and shocking revelations.

Thirty Three was written by Sydney based Australian playwrighting duo Michael Booth & Alistair Powning and premiered in 2011. A feature film adaptation is being made this year.

Red Scarf Theatre was founded in 2015 by Australian performer and producer, Corinne Furlong. Red Scarf Theatre are an Australian company based in London championing new writing and supporting the role of women in theatre. Their first show opened at Rada Club Theatre to four and five star reviews.

Director Kai Raisbeck says “It’s hard to read this play without recognising one of the characters, either in yourself, or amongst your friends. Thirty Three perfectly captures the chaos, peaks, troughs, turns and reveals of Saskia’s tumultuous 33rd birthday party. The writers have created a story in an unashamedly Australian setting with nuanced drama and comedy that draws us into the story and carries us along until the chaotic end.”