By Yona Eagle
Oysters is a play written and performed by a team who are well known to Fringe patrons. British actor Nicholas Collett is joined by fellow countryman Neil Salvage in his first visit to Australia to play all the male roles between them as well as write the script.
This play centres around the temperamental genius of Johannes Brahms who we first meet at a party held by the conductor Heinrich von Herzogenberg, the first of Collett’s roles in this play.
The party is in his honour for the premiere performance of his Violin Concerto written in 1878 for his great friend and violinist Joseph Joachim also played by Collett in a further scene.
Salvage opens the play in the persona of the slightly inebriated Fritz the butler, morphs into an obnoxious Brahms and concludes as Fritz Simrock, the music publisher who believes both Brahms and Joachim have had affair with wife Amalie.
The main female role of Clara Schumann the composer and pianist is played by Stefanie Rossi with her glorious hair tamed to an austere bun. Impressively, straight after curtain called, Rossi raced off stage to prepare for her role in another fringe show called Judas. Rossi has been featured in many works recently in Adelaide and I look forward to seeing her continue to work across the theatre scene.
Clara reiterates Brahms negativity, but widowhood and severe arthritis give her a just cause whereas Brahms is just a bitter man.
He bemoans the fact that just because his lullaby has made him rich it doesn’t make I’m great. If any other artist stated this it may be seen as modesty buy in Brahms just him being obnoxious.
Clara also presents the interpretation of the title Oysters as she explains the “dirt” that gets under the composers skin, festers and comes out as beautiful music like a pearl.
The fourth cast member is the Korean violinist Ahram Min who gives us comic relief as well as playing the violin. Her facial expressions in reaction the outrageous comments of the male characters enhance the dialogue without uttering a word.
Some members of the audience found the characters a little confusing, despite the changes in costume and actors, as well as Collett’s and Salvage’s demeanours, however, I feel this is due to the story being a little rushed.
I'd suggest that it would be worthwhile doing some reading on these characters before seeing the play as this will give valuable background that will enhance your experience as an audience member.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.