By Adam Stepfner
All I See Is You, written by Katherine Smith, tells the story of two young men, Bobby and Ralph, in 50's England forced apart after a forbidden love takes place and shakes both boy's lives to the core. This powerful and poignant piece gives us a glimpse of a period so foreign to modern day theatre goers, while still remaining somewhat relevant in the themes the show explores.
Katherine Smith's writing is powerful, heartfelt, while at times light and funny, allowing audiences to remain captive to the integrity of the story, but ensuring it doesn't become so extremely overwhelming. Smith writes with such clarity, her characters intentions are clear, while structurally the piece lends itself to the audience, through aside moments and broken up monologue, the piece is being played for the audience opposed to guarding it with the commonly unbroken "fourth wall". The work fits perfectly within the time period, with references to films, musicians and events that give the certain implication, and if taken away, this piece would simply work in any period, as Smith explores issues that still remain in this day and age. Ciarán Griffiths and Christian Edwards are phenomenal as Bobby and Ralph. Their chemistry on stage is apparent from the early stages of the piece, growing and fading throughout, the actors play so perfectly together. Griffiths is a powerhouse as Bobby, his emotional force is immense, as he takes us through the heartbreak and anguish of losing his first love. Edwards performance, more subtle and heartfelt, gives us a fantastic balance between the two men, which is essential to establish the relationship between the characters. Directors Ben Occhipinti and Mark Powell make incredibly smart choices, leaving the stage blank allowing the work from Smith and the actor's to shine. Their way of creating tension and intimacy on stage, through the blocking of the show is clear, as the men move in such a way that suggests the urgency of the situation at hand.
The piece uses costume, along with direct references to the time period through the dialogue, to give the impression of 50's England. Basic suits, with Bobby wearing suspenders, and Ralph in a waistcoat, the clothing is simple yet suggestive, again allowing the writing and performance to shine. Charlie Morgan Jones' lighting design was interesting, whether it be lighting the stage from the wings, creating a blue stage for dramatic effect, or the use of strobe during a "shock therapy" scene, the lighting is well thought out and works in tandem with the piece, especially considering a bare stage, the lighting was a standout. Occhipinti also lending his skills to sound design, used songs that worked with the context of the piece and time period.
All I See Is You, is all about the writing, and powerhouse acting. The choices made by Directors Ben Occhipinti and Mark Powell, and the production team lend themselves beautifully to Katherine Smith's writing. This work is not only integral to story telling in today's world, but extremely important, and a must-see for any Sydneysider. Brilliantly written, and flawlessly acted, All I Can See Is You, on tour from the UK, plays as part of Sydney Fringe at The Old 505 from September 17th - 21st, before heading down to Victoria for Melbourne Fringe later this month.
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