Review: Telephone at PICA

Reviewed by Tatum Stafford


Without a doubt, Telephone, produced by The Last Great Hunt, is one of the most creative pieces of original theatre I have seen in Perth in a long time. Filled to the brim with witty dialogue, skilful technical effects and cleverly overlapped storylines, this performance packed a punch and would definitely appeal to many varied audiences.


Speaking to the overlapping storylines, it’s hard to describe the piece and remain spoiler-free. Its blurb posits, “What happens when you’re on hold?”, and in simple terms, the show weaves together interactions and conversations that happen via the phone through characters like tax auditors, radio DJs, teenage hackers and lovers who want to make things right.


The Last Great Hunt always feature phenomenal local performers in their works, and this show was no exception. This show starred Grace Chow, Courtney Henri, Arielle Gray, Jeffrey Jay Fowler, and Tim Watts.


It’s clear the cast of Telephone had to work incredibly hard to achieve the seamless transitions between dialogue and action (often with an old-school landline phone in hand), so they should be commended for their fantastic work as a true ensemble.


The technical elements of the show were remarkable, and added such an interesting layer to the tensions, drama and sometimes comedy of each scene. Chris Isaacs’ lighting, Rachel Claudio’s composition, and flawless stage management by Georgia Sealey all contribute to this. Props must go to the creative use of torches and colourful hand-held lights to create an epic moment to Darude’s “Sandstorm” that brought plenty of joy to younger audience members.


Gita Bezard’s direction (along with assistance from Elise Wilson) ensures the piece is impeccably paced and blocked to perfection. Bravo also to Bryan Woltjen, Associate Designer, who also did a fantastic job in helping create the cosmic realm that many of the play’s phone conversations occur within.


This was the world premiere of Telephone, and I’m confident many theatregoers from across the globe will have the privilege to see it for themselves one day. It was a gripping, heartfelt, funny piece that will stay in my mind for a long while to come.


Images Supplied