By Adam Stepfner
Don't Hate The Player, written and directed by Laura McDonald, follows the story of two sisters making their way through a virtual reality, using the game as a tool to explore the depth and nuance of their relationship. Split between real life and virtual reality the story sees Darcy and Gab trying to navigate their way through a series of tasks before the game is cut short by a twist, forcing the girls to come to terms with the truth of the situation.
Laura McDonald's writing is funny, giving us many references to modern day issues and pop culture, although overall the story at times became quite repetitive and felt presentational, lacking a real depth to some of her characters. Though the story of the two, very different (if a little archetypal) sisters proved for some nice moments of theatre and great opportunities for the audience to indulge in their interactions, the comedy at times felt as though it was fighting for a laugh, something I would again have to put down to the repetition. McDonald's direction worked for the concept of the piece, and the space it was being performed in. Personally I disliked the transitions, which were either too long or too messy and left me disengaged. It would have been great to see the actors work some of the transitions and set movements into their actions to provide a smoother segway between scenes.
Madelaine Osborne and Rhiannan Watson play Darcy and Gab. They played together very well as sisters, creating a dynamic that felt real but also was quite comical on stage. However, individually I was left questioning the motivations of their characters at times and wondered too if the actors may also be questioning these same motives. Atharv Kolhatkar plays Ashaan, giving a good performance, however his character journey was somewhat affected, as his major plot point was easily suspected. Cassius Russel plays Reg providing majority of the comic relief in the piece. As an ensemble, all the actors work well together, remaining strong in their parts while allowing the story to carry on as a whole unit.
Amelia Skelton's set was simple, a couch, a coffee table, a kitchen bench and a window working to create the apartment vibe the piece was going for. A bike stabilised on stage felt quite random and unnecessary, only really being used to create movement for actors, serving no real purpose to the story. Her lighting design was interesting, using colour to clearly distinct night and day, a risk I was really glad to see taken.
Don't Hate The Player has a great story, and is quite funny, although i would've loved to have seen more depth in the piece overall. Laura McDonald's story would be perfect for any gamer who loves a good laugh, or any sisters who would enjoy seeing a portrayal of their relationship on stage, performing at The Old Fitz from October 8-12.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.