Review by Kate Gaul
The glorious all-female company Purple Tape Productions presents “Expiration Date” written by Lana Filies at Meraki Arts Bar following a season at Adelaide Fringe. Lily Hayman directs this 50-minute two-hander with confidence and sensitivity. This play is about a couple of exs who get unwittingly trapped in a lift. Ouch! The space is small, the stakes get steamy and there’s no-where to run! Working in a confined stage space really tests the mettle of any director and Lily Hayman thankfully gets out of the way of the actors and resists any temptation for antics with her two talented actors – Lana Filies (yes, also the writer) and Flynn Mapplebeck. One of the highlights of the production (writing and performances) is the montage of snappy scenes that show the passing of time in the lift as the day draws on. It’s a delight and each swift moment packs a punch, gets a laugh and moves the story on. I admired Hayman’s work at KXT (possibly pre-pandemic) on her own play “Fledgling” and I count her as a director to watch!
The talented and multi-skilled Tyler Fitzpatrick designs the lights and at Meraki Arts Bar – where few positions or instruments exist – it is quite the challenge. The work is practical, thoughtful and I noted the in-set lighting which lifted the simple stage design into something quite special. I love attention to detail, and Fitzpatrick goes the full mile on this one!
Actor Flynn Mapplebeck plays the guy half of the relationship. He has a talent for comedy and certainly puts the com in this rom-com and it’s a confident performance. He’s the “nice guy” – but is he? Maybe it’s a dramedy…. mmmm
Lana Filies has more to work with. No surprises there – she wrote the play and her (unnamed) character carries most of the dramatic heft. She and the guy had been in a relationship for seven years before they broke up and the Lana’s character had an abortion two years ago. She never told the guy. He’s moved on, she hasn’t. All things hidden are exposed in the broken lift. Lana is always a delight to watch on stage. No-one wins this battle in the lift and Lana brings nuance, truth, and real humanity to her loveable and flawed character.
So, getting into the deep stuff – Lana Filies writes about body autonomy. It takes a while for the play to get there. And there’s a lot to take on in the last third of the work. But the situation – trapped in a lift – and its metaphoric value are spot on. The play could have started from the moment they both arrived in the lift. The prelude scene from the past with her giving him a puppy could have been neatly revealed as part of the action.
Big Ups to the entire company for living the dream. I look forward to their takeover at KXT later this year. This is the perfect fringe show: Intelligent, daring, important female driven theatre – can’t wait to see what the Purple Tape team do next!