Directed by Bokkie Robertson
Reviewed by Charlotte Smee
The New Theatre, Newtown
14th September – 1st October 2022
Winner of the Silver Gull Play Award 2021
World Premiere as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival
The Other End of the Afternoon is a hidden gem of the Sydney Fringe. Winner of the Silver Gull Play Award in 2021, Bokkie Robertson’s brand-new play follows the story of “top hat Clive” (Sam Wallace) – a teenage boy desperate to escape his hormonal high school life by time travelling to “the other end of the afternoon”. A rag-tag, lovable bunch of characters include Clive’s flamboyantly queer stepbrother and aspiring panel beater/crime lord Xavier (Sam Martin), bully/popular girl turned love interest Bianca Zhu (Sophie Teo), and Dylan the troubled art nerd (Dominique Purdue).
The world of Clive’s young life is simply created by set and costume designer Blake Hedley. A set of three double doors painted with rough grey bricks and a final door graffiti-tagged with “Dylan” sit diagonally across the stage. Characters are dressed in blue school uniforms to match the blue grey walls, and the adult art teacher’s outfit is so accurate that I snorted out loud when she walked on stage. The world feels almost cartoonish which is a great accompaniment to the style of Robertson’s writing. Characters address the audience directly, letting us glimpse their true feelings as they are happening. Every member of the cast is so uniquely charming, and the writing is so consistently funny and heart-warming, that this direct address never falls into cringe territory.
Sound design by Paris Bell paired with Ben Bauchet’s compositions is similarly simple, detailed and beautiful. The way that music was used in emotional moments felt cinematic, which makes sense with Robertson’s screen-writing background. Lighting design by Dany Akbar also clearly shows different states of time and being, with the “magic afternoons” slowly becoming brighter and warmer, and day-time yellow quickly snapping to cold white night.
The plot is essentially this: Clive wears a top hat everywhere because he thought it would make him some new friends after his only friend/crush left school. Instead, Bianca Zhu bullies him. Dylan the art nerd has a series of troubles at home, and Xavier just wants to be loved. They are all brought together by their various problems, and their solution is to imagine themselves in a magic afternoon from another time in history, able to escape simply by getting lost enough that you can get to the past. The style is a restrained magic realism, reminiscent of Neil Gaiman or other similar YA fiction that ends with someone becoming a fairy or some other impossible solution.
My only complaint with The Other End of the Afternoon was that Dylan seemed to encounter a series of increasingly sad events, culminating in her arrest for punching a teacher at school. This was somewhat heavy-handed and made me feel a little bad for being so happy for Clive and Bianca’s blossoming romance. This is entirely forgivable however, because of the brilliant and completely unexpected twist ending that had me and my theatre companion audibly gasping.
I won’t ruin it for you, but I will tell you that The Other End of the Afternoon is truly delightful. Well worth a watch for the heart-warming performances, lovely music, sound and lighting, and the fantastic twist ending. With some development and nourishment that can only come from audience support, this play could very easily become something great. And with ticket prices as low as $20, there’s really no excuse not to see it.
Director Bokkie Robertson
Set and Costume Designer Blake Hedley
Lighting Designer Dany Akbar
Sound Designer Paris Bell
Composer Ben Bauchet
Dramaturg Suzanne Hauser
Production Manager/Stage Manager Carla Hedley
Stage Manager Louisa Panucci
ASM Bree Spaccavento
Music Supervisor Margot Roberts
Recording and Mixing Engineer Jade Carter
Costume/Set Assistant Eloisa Justa
Instagram Marketing Manager Promise Mudzingwa
Instagram Graphic Design and Consultant Nicola Macindoe
Photographer Troy Kent
Fight Choreographer Diego Retamales
Operators Nathan Carlyle, Anita Lenzo, Sharlini Williams
Musicians Sam Cheng, Rebekah Parsons
Evalyn Sharpham, Jean-David Le Goullon
Gina Cohen, Lisa Hanssens
Sam Martin, Brendan McBride
Rebekah Parsons, Dominique Purdue
Sophie Teo, Sam Wallace
Previews: Wed 14 Sep & Thu 15 Sep 7.30pm
Fri 16 Sep & Sat 17 Sep 7:30pm
Sun 18 Sep, 5pm
Thu 22 Sep – Sat 24 Sep, 7.30pm
Sun 25 Sep, 5pm
Thu 29 Sep & Fri 30 Sep, 7.30pm
Sat 1 Oct, 2pm
Tickets on sale at sydneyfringe.com
Running time: 110 minutes including interval
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