Review by Matthew Hocter
Back in 2021, I returned to writing and reviewing theatre productions here in Adelaide. Given that the world was still in the thick of a pandemic, shows were few and far between. “Slim pickings” was a phrase that kept popping into my head as I left shows that year. Then, after seeing Venus in Fur at the now extinct Bakehouse Theatre, my love for theatre was not only reignited, but provided me with a sense of hope for what was to come from the Adelaide theatre community.
Reuniting for STARC latest production, Reasonable Doubt, this time at The Holden Street Theatres, the trio of cofounders, actors Stefanie Rossi and Marc Clement and director Tony Knight bring playwright Susie Millers “erotic courtroom thriller” to life in suburban Adelaide.
The story focuses on two former jurors, Anna (Rossi) and Mitchell (Clement), who were a part of a hung jury and two years later, reunite in a hotel room. As the story unravels, feelings are reignited and the two embark on revisiting the acquittal of the trial and the ramifications it had and still has on them. ‘What if” was something that was thrown around a lot and given that at the centre of this brilliant piece of work were the complexities surrounding human relationships, “what if” seemed like the obvious question we would all be asking if put in the same situation.
Although the topic is serious and at times confronting, Rossi managed to bring a comic element that neither felt out of place or inauthentic. In fact, given how much of the play was steeped in deep subject matter, Rossi’s goofiness was a welcome reprieve and only added an extra layer to her character. Clement and Rossi have an incredible chemistry on stage, one that is in equal parts palpable tension and at the same time, a familiarity and connection that must be so hard to muster without coming off as contrived.
As the audience continues their voyeuristic journey into the depths of this relationship, the sexual tension between Anna and Mitchell intensifies, but Miller ensures that clichés are not present and instead uses this as a multifaceted deep dive into where responsibility lies, whose truth is correct and if anyone really has a conscience. This story is fast paced and takes a new twist with every turn, many times leaving the viewer shocked at what has just been disclosed.
With so many what if’s and conscience questioning scenarios, Reasonable Doubt examines ethics and morals, none more so than that of the judicial system. Both Clement and Rossi are brilliant in their roles and under Knight’s guidance, they deliver performances worthy of any broadway show. It’s no secret at how talented I think Rossi is, something that was again reinforced with this play as she undertook the character of Anna and gave her a solid moral sense.
A brilliant piece of work that was not only captivating from start to finish, but at times coercive in its approach to the plays tragedy and conflict of interests; both moral and interpersonal.