the lexicon

a writing portfolio by Alexandra Savvides

You Talkin’ to Me? Diary of an Olympic Cabbie

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Nostalgia for times past provides much inspiration for You Talkin’ to Me? Diary of an Olympic Cabbie, writes Alexandra Savvides.Jamie Oxenbould

Andy (Jamie Oxenbould) is a struggling writer looking for his big break. He is also somewhat obsessed with sport. On the cusp of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Andy decides to enrol in taxi college to satiate his thirst for the Games. Based on Anthony Sharwood’s novel of his time spent as a cab driver during the Olympics and adapted for the stage by Mark Kilmurry, You Talkin’ to Me? is an enjoyable, if predictable, version of events.

Girlfriend Isabella (Catherine Moore) is progressing up the career ladder whilst Andy drives his cab around town. Necessary dramatic tension is built around her expectations and anxieties about Andy’s choice of job, but this is far from the core of the play. Instead, it is Oxenbould’s characterisation of Andy and over thirty other incidental characters that grace the backseat of his cab which becomes the main focal point of the production. Oxenbould’s ability to switch effortlessly from confused British tourists to drunken twenty-something girls is nothing short of amazing. He brings such vivacity (and stamina) to the role which results in a plethora of laughter on many occasions.

The characters which Oxenbould brings to life are incredibly well-observed, even if they do tend to lapse into stereotype. The slow-motion segments and music montages are amusing, but clichéd in retrospect; yet at the time they fit perfectly with the mood of the piece. It is easy to be cynical about this production but the performances by Oxenbould and Moore win you over with ease that all such thoughts are banished by the conclusion of the piece.

You Talkin’ to Me? works on the premise that the events of the Games are still in living memory for the audience. There are many cultural nuances and incidental details that date the production, but perhaps that is precisely the point. As Andy says somewhat predictably at the conclusion of the play, these were simpler times, and will always be looked upon favourably. This is a theatre experience to uplift rather than challenge, and a fond historical artefact of a time when a city went just a little bit crazy over being on the world stage.

Dates: 2 April – 22 May 2008
Location: Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli
Price: $38 – $62
Bookings: (02) 9929 0644 or www.ensemble.com.au

Vibewire

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Written by lexstatic

April 15, 2008 at 1:16 pm

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