It’s a rare and wonderful thing to discover a company like Andon Theatre. Following the roaring success of their show Bits and Box last year at the Rose Theatre, the dynamic duo of Joshua Mathieson and Ray Hunwicks turned the heat up with their short play Game
Mathieson and Hunwicks don’t just act together – they think together, breathe together, wow together.
The brilliant uniqueness of such a concept is carried throughout the show, spreading into every corner of the simple set, innovative props and – most of all – the performers themselves. Mathieson and Hunwicks’ chemistry is electrifying from the moment they step on stage and when the two really get going together – well, good luck trying to take your eyes off them. Watching a double act like this is like watching an inferno; you keep thinking it can’t burn any faster, bigger or brighter until it does and then some. Mathieson and Hunwicks don’t just act together – they think together, breathe together, wow together. There really is nothing quite like them.
Unfortunately, even the sparks of And on Theatre’s talent struggle to light fires of solid structure and coherence throughout the show. The script has a tendency to lapse into spontaneous rambling – not always a bad thing, but the initial half of the story is splitting at the seams with it. The already simplistic plot drags a little in favour of endless back-and-forth banter that has an improvised feel. Again, not a bad thing in principle and the duo’s wit and spontaneity truly is exceptional until it goes on just that tiny bit too long. Perhaps Game is an example of how too much of a good thing is never a good thing.
As the show goes on, however, the story breaks quite suddenly into a sprint, careening towards the finishing line at a pace that leaves you sweating in your seat. The ear-splitting yells and burning rage of the Mathieson and Hunwicks’ characters is an optimal showcase of their dramatic ability. And the rising competition of Game is successfully theatrical to the nth degree but a little more development and steadier pacing would doubtless go a long way.
Overall theshow is an admirable blaze of heated dialogue and dark comedy, culminating in an ending that leaves the story open-ended and the air thrumming with bittersweet significance. It’s a show that plays for impact and certainly succeeds, though it runs the risk of leaving you just a bit cold in your seat. Dramatic – yes. Satisfying - not so much. Worth seeing? Absolutely.