A PARK bench is the basis of six very different short plays at the Old Mill Theatre this October.
Written and directed by Perth playwright Noel O’Neill, each play features two actors and is presented by Maverick Theatre Productions under the umbrella title A View from the Park.
Passion Play is a comedy about an egotistical, lecherous theatre director who has walked out of auditions for an Easter play about the crucifixion and his agent trying to reason with him.
It’s followed by Daddy’s Little Girl where a dominating father insists on orchestrating his daughter’s wedding – but, underneath, it’s about him not being able to let her go.
In Rules of Engagement, a man (played by O’Neill) is about to propose marriage after receiving some advice from his mother but soon realises his bride-to-be carries a lot of emotional baggage.
A superstitious man meets his long-term partner in Sign Right There and she is under the impression he might move in with her, although he has other plans.
Walking Matilda is a twisted tale of betrayal and deception with the revelation of many secrets when two friends meet.
Rounding out the set is One For Sorrow, featuring two lifelong friends – one is gravely ill and the other has neglected the friendship, so he tries to heal the wounds by lending a hand.
“I like the idea of the park bench because I consider it ‘middle ground’,” O’Neill said.
“It’s not ‘your place’ or ‘my place’ but a free atmosphere where people can either solve their differences or walk away from them.
“I always consider the bench itself to be a character that brings people together in conversation while exposing little pieces of what’s going on inside.”
The main challenge, according to O’Neill, is how to make each play interesting.
“It’s not so much about what the actors are doing but what they are doing to each other with the dialogue,” he said. “That’s where the action really is.
“I try to inject a little comedy into drama and a little drama into comedy because I always feel life is like that.”
Born in Ireland, O’Neill moved to New York in his late teens and appeared in many off-Broadway productions before moving to Perth more than 20 years ago, clocking up numerous awards for writing and directing.
He has previously worked as a lecturer at the WA Academy of Performing Arts and Perth Actors’ Collective and is currently appearing as Watto in the ABC-TV series The Heights.
“The appeal of A View From The Park is the fact you have six unknown situations and there’s s a curiosity to that,” O’Neill said.
“When you present a full play, you have one story and can more or less figure out the ending in most cases.
“But with the park bench plays you have six situations and the audience really has no idea of the outcome each time.”
A View from the Park plays at 7.30 pm October 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, and 31 with 2 pm matinees on October 24, 25, and 31. All tickets are $20 – book at www.trybooking.com/BLLMM.