Review by Stephanie Lee
Triple Bypass: Three Ten Minute Plays About Living for Death & Dying for Life is a touching and at times funny reflection on death in three completely different scenarios. Consisting of three short plays of around 10 minutes each, the digital Melbourne Fringe show is filmed in an actual black box theatre setting giving the audience a sense of the live online.
The first play Seeking Dignity explores the impact of trauma on both those it is inflicted upon and those who inflict it upon others. The second play Close to Black is set in front of the gates to heaven and highlights the music industries harmful impact on women’s body image. The final play Tango-ed Web is a comedic look at the mating ritual of spiders which forces the characters to reflect on living life to the fullest.
The set and costume are quite minimalistic, which works well for the filmed version of each play as the stagecraft quickly contextualises each short play. In particular, the costumes in Close to Black instantly sets up the two women as distinct characters- one a ‘girl next door’ folk singer and the other a ‘trashy’ party enthused pop star. Even though there isn’t anything overly spectacular about the set and costume design, it is employed effectively throughout each of the plays to show the audience rather than tell them.
Music is used consistently throughout to tie the plays together, with each play effectively having its own theme music and poem to introduce it. These little additions help the pieces separate from each other and assists the audience’s transition between the three distinct tones of each play. While the sound design is rather minimal and simplistic, it does act as a good transition between the segments.
Curt Campbell as the bee in Tango-ed Web and Michelle Schaunaman as Amy in Close to Black are both particularly compelling performances. Campbell’s performance is funny and entertaining to watch, breathing life into the middle-aged bee that spends his days listening to self-help podcasts and watching suitors fail to win over the widow spider. Similarly, Schaunaman’s Amy is heartfelt and feels genuine, successfully engendering sympathy from the audience for her struggle induced by fame.
Although rather simple, Triple Bypass: Three Ten Minute Plays About Living for Death & Dying for Life is a genuine reflection on loss, death and fear that makes the audience think and feel.